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Calif. first responders to receive hep A vaccines after cop is sickened

The motion was introduced and approved after a union spokesperson made an urgent call for vaccines after the officer contracted the virus

By Susan Abram
Daily News

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County leaders have approved an effort to look into providing law enforcement and other first responders with access to free hepatitis A vaccines, after the LAPD’s union reported an officer was sickened with the liver disease while working in downtown’s skid row.

The motion, authored by supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn, was introduced and approved Tuesday, nearly a week after a spokesman from the Los Angeles Police Protective League made an urgent call for vaccines for 1,000 officers after the officer contracted the virus.

The union represents some 9,800 Los Angeles Police Department officers up to the rank of lieutenant.

The board directed the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to work with the LAPD, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Fire, and other law enforcement and fire agencies “to ensure that first responders who are most at-risk of being exposed to Hepatitis A have access to vaccinations.”

Public health officials were instructed to return to the board in 14 days with a report on availability and resources.

“We applaud the swift action taken by the Board of Supervisors to protect Los Angeles police officers and other first responders by providing the Hepatitis A vaccination,” according to a statement from the LAPPL. “We appreciate the leadership of Supervisor Hahn and Supervisor Barger for immediately understanding the significance of this public health issue and for acting on our plea for help on behalf of our members.”

Much of the vaccination outreach efforts in Los Angeles have been focused on homeless people who live in encampments. Health officials are concerned that, because of an outbreak among homeless people in encampments in San Diego and Santa Cruz counties, the disease will spread in Los Angeles.

As of Monday, there were 29 reported cases of hepatitis A, 15 of them among homeless people who use drugs.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease with symptoms that include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and a yellowing of the skin or eyes or jaundice. It is spread person-to-person through close contact or through contact with environments contaminated with feces.

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