With more than 850 cases of hepatitis A reported in Florida, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., is calling for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to offer vaccinations for free in some parts of the state.
Towards the end of last week, Mast unveiled the “Hepatitis Exposure Prevention Act” (HEPA) which will “increase access to the hepatitis A vaccination by directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to administer the vaccine for free in communities designated by the governor of a state as at risk of a hepatitis A outbreak.”
Mast weighed in on Thursday on why he had introduced the bill.
“Getting vaccinated is the single most effective action that people can take to avoid getting hepatitis A,” Mast said. “If people are not already vaccinated, they should immediately get vaccinated. The vaccine is widely available through healthcare providers and at pharmacies, and the Florida Department of Health in both Martin and Palm Beach Counties can assist people without insurance to get the vaccine. We must work together to ensure that nobody in an at-risk community remains unvaccinated because of concerns about the cost.”
The state government has declared Martin County–where there have been 19 reported cases–and Palm Beach County–where there have been six reported cases– high-risk zones for the virus.
“The single most effective action people can take to avoid getting hepatitis A is to be vaccinated,” Mast’s office insisted.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.