Hepatitis B vaccination program underway for LA County FD
Free hepatitis B vaccinations are being offered to the County of Los Angeles Fire Department, and nearly all of the department’s 2,300 firefighting personnel are expected to participate in the program.
“When we were planning the program, we estimated that 75 to 80 percent would participate,” says Marguarite Jordan, the department’s health programs coordinator. “From the overwhelming response we’ve had so far, I’d say that participation will be close to 100 percent.”
The educational part of the program began in January, with the actual immunizations to have commenced on April 1. Metro Medical Services of Long Beach, California is administering the vaccinations and conducting the classes. The company will go to each of the department’s 16 battalions, working with the shift schedule. The cost of the program to the department is about $I00 per firefighter.
“We believe that we’re offering something unique—education about hepatitis B before beginning the vaccinations,” says Marc Rubin, the company’s general manager. “If people arc educated about the disease and why it’s important to be protected, they’re more likely to complete the series of three shots.”
Hepatitis B can be spread through accidental contamination of cuts and abrasions; needle sticks; and when infectious fluids contact mucosal surfaces of the eyes, nose, or mouth. According to Occupational Health and Safety Administration data, between 8,000 to 12,000 health care workers are infected with the disease each year.