U.S. Rep. Brian Mast wants better access to hepatitis A vaccine in Florida

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast wants better access to hepatitis A vaccine in Florida

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — U.S. Rep. Brian Mast wants to give people better access to the hepatitis A vaccine.

The South Florida Republican is scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon, where he'll announce legislation to increase access to the vaccine for communities designated as "high-risk" of an outbreak.

One of those areas is Martin County, where there have been 19 cases of hepatitis A and three deaths this year, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The state also declared Palm Beach County as a high-risk zone since there have been six cases in 2019.

"We are pursuing this on a number of fronts," said Dr. Carina Blackmore, a state epidemiologist, at a news conference on April 10.

The Florida Department of Health in Martin County recently extended its hours to give people more time to get vaccinated.

A spokesperson for Mast said his legislation will expand access to the vaccine for high-risk communities like Martin and Palm Beach Counties.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with local and state health officials every day to identify the source of the outbreak.

Doctors are urging people to get vaccinated and frequently wash your hands after going to the bathroom and before preparing food.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease spread person to person through food, drinks, or objects contaminated by small amounts of fecal matter.

Mast's news conference is scheduled for Thursday at 12 p.m. at his office in Stuart.

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