Mayor Faulconer announces firefighters can now administer hepatitis A vaccines
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — In the latest step to combat the spread of hepatitis A in San Diego, a plan was announced Friday to allow firefighters and paramedics to administer vaccinations against the disease.
Taking advantage of new state emergency regulations, the city will deploy three-person teams — consisting of a firefighter paramedic, a captain and a registered nurse — to key hotspots within the city like downtown, beach communities and other public areas.
Health officials say immunizing at-risk populations is the best way to stop the spread of the disease, which attacks the liver. The outbreak has killed 18 people and sickened nearly 500 since last November, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.
Around two-thirds of the cases have occurred among the homeless and/or drug users, according to the HHSA.
"We are pulling out all the stops in our continued push to get more at- risk folks vaccinated as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.
"While cleaning our streets and providing sanitary places for people to go are important, we need to continue delivering vaccinations to this hard-to- reach population to stop this virus in its tracks,” he said. "Giving our firefighters and paramedics the ability to provide critical vaccinations will help ensure we get the job done much faster.”
San Diego Fire-Rescue personnel who volunteer for the assignment must complete a four-hour HHSA training session prior to being deployed in the field. Trainings began Thursday, and paramedics are set to begin vaccinating next week, city officials said.
SDFRD Chief Brian Fennessy said the staffers who go into the field will be drawn from administrative positions.
Vaccines and supplies will be provided by American Medical Response, which provides paramedic services to the city.