In an effort to fight a hepatitis A outbreak, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and the County of San Diego are taking meaningful actions that include providing free vaccinations, distributing educational materials and installing handwashing stations throughout the city.

Hepatitis A Vaccine Image/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Hepatitis A Vaccine
Image/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

The County is expected to provide the City with a list of handwashing locations later today. The City of San Diego will be expediting the process to ensure that the County can install the stations immediately.

“The City continues to stand ready to support the County’s Health and Human Services Agency in its plans to provide vaccinations, sanitation and education to San Diegans as we battle this outbreak,” Mayor Faulconer said. “We must continue to work collaboratively to stop this crisis and save lives.”

As of Aug. 29, San Diego County has reported 378 cases, including 15 deaths in the current outbreak.

The majority of people who have contracted hepatitis A during this outbreak are homeless. Person-to-person contact and poor sanitation – such as not washing hands after using the bathroom – is how the virus spreads.

LISTEN: Talking Hepatitis A with Dr Amesh Adalja

Public health officials have said that the best way to control the outbreak is through vaccinations, sanitation and education. The City is following the County public health recommendation to use this three-pronged approach to address the outbreak through several initiatives:

Providing free vaccinations

Since June, the San Diego Police Department’s Homeless Outreach, Psychiatric Emergency Response and Quality of Life teams have been bringing County personnel with them to offer individuals free hepatitis A vaccinations. Additionally, the San Diego Central Library will host free hepatitis A vaccination clinics every third Tuesday of the month from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. beginning on Sept. 19 in conjunction with the County.

Cleaning the public right of ways

The County provided the City with recommended sanitation procedures for sidewalks, streets and gutters last week and updated them yesterday. The City will implement the protocols within the next 10 working days.

Promoting awareness

The City and County have worked together on educating homelessness service providers on the best practices to avoid contamination, which includes maintaining clean facilities and safe food handling.

The City offered to place the County’s education materials such as posters and fliers in facilities such as libraries and recreation centers and City buildings.

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Encouraging the County to declare a state of emergency

If the County declares a state of emergency, the region could receive state and federal funding to address the hepatitis A outbreak. Additional funding could go to a variety of programs that could curb the spread of the virus.