City’s Vaccination, Sanitation & Education Efforts Helping to Combat Hepatitis A Outbreak
New Coordination Center Directing City Resources to Deliver Vaccines to At-Risk Individuals, Sanitize Public Right-Of-Ways and Educate the Public On Proper Hygiene
Friday, September 22, 2017 - NEWS RELEASE
San Diego – Following City vaccination efforts this summer and the Aug. 31 directive from San Diego County public health officials, City Hall continues to take aggressive action in recent weeks to combat the hepatitis A outbreak by providing vaccines for at-risk people, implementing a chlorine bleach solution to power wash sidewalks and other public areas in downtown, and educate the public about proper hygiene.
At Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s direction, the City on Monday established a Coordination Center inside City Hall to direct all of the City’s efforts. A 12-person team led by John Valencia, the City’s Office of Homeland Security Executive Director, coordinates resources as needed, tracks progress on the ground, and coordinates closely with San Diego County public health officials.
“We are a resilient city and have proven time and again that we are ready to handle anything that comes our way,” Mayor Faulconer said. “We’ve made continued progress in getting more folks vaccinated and improving the sanitary conditions on our downtown streets and sidewalks. We’re going to get through this together, but we need everybody to do their part by getting the word out to at-risk individuals who need to get vaccinated and by making sure all San Diegans regularly wash their hands with soap and warm water.”
For months, City officials have been working with the County to hold free vaccination clinics at public libraries (including three in July and early August), have San Diego police officers accompany County nurses when they go to homeless encampments to offer vaccines, and place educational posters about hepatitis A in libraries, recreation centers and other public buildings.
The City has also ramped up efforts in recent weeks in the following areas.
Since public health officials say the most effective way to combat the virus is for at-risk people to get vaccinated, the City has significantly increased the number of vaccination clinics offered at libraries (see below for list of upcoming clinics). In addition, the City – in partnership with ambulance provider American Medical Response and the Downtown San Diego Partnership – held a two-day event Thursday and Friday at Golden Hall where 1,278 people were vaccinated.
In all, more than 28,000 people have received immunizations through the City and County’s efforts.
At-risk populations include homeless individuals, intravenous drug users, food handlers, janitorial workers and occupations/professions that have regular interactions with at-risk people, such as police officers, firefighters, paramedics, homeless service providers and health care professionals.
On Sept. 11, the City began an unprecedented effort to sanitize sidewalks, streets and gutters throughout the downtown area with cleanings occurring every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A vendor is using a chlorine bleach solution that public health officials say is best way to eradicate the virus from public areas. The sanitation efforts will continue next week and will soon expand to other areas.
The City also has significantly expanded access to public restrooms. Fourteen bathrooms in Balboa Park are now open around the clock representing half of all the park’s restrooms. In addition, the City has added two new 24-hour restroom facilities (with four separate stalls each) at the corner of C St. and 1st Avenue and at 1330 G St., bringing the total number of public bathroom sites to 21 in the downtown area. A 22nd site will be added next week in the East Village.
In coordination with the City, the County has had 41 handwashing stations up and running since Sept. 2 throughout downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
There are a number of opportunities available for people to get free hepatitis A vaccinations and sanitary kits. If someone is interested in a vaccine, they should call 211 or go to 211sandiego.org.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that is usually transmitted by the fecal-oral contact, either through person-to-person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water. Contamination can occur when infected persons do not wash their hands properly after going to the bathroom and then touch other objects or food items. Surfaces that are frequently touched should be cleaned and sanitized often.
To avoid infection, public health officials recommend people wash their hands regularly after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food. Hands and arms should be washed with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds and then thoroughly rinsed with clean running water and properly dried.
The County HHSA offers vaccines at dozens of Community Health Centers and Public Health Centers throughout the region. Here is a complete list of locations.
CONTACT: Greg Block at (619) 227-3752 or [email protected]