I believe we have an obligation to help protect the public health of our communities.

Florida is experiencing a statewide hepatitis A outbreak, with more than 850 reported cases, including nineteen in Martin County, six in Palm Beach County and two in St. Lucie County. The state has declared both Martin and Palm Beach counties to be high-risk zones for the virus.

The Hepatitis Exposure Prevention Act (or HEP A) would 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.

Getting vaccinated is the single most effective action to avoid getting hepatitis A. The vaccine is widely available through healthcare providers and at pharmacies. The Florida Department of Health in both Martin and Palm Beach Counties can assist people without insurance to get the vaccine.

But the bottom line is that we must work together to ensure that nobody in an at-risk community remains unvaccinated because of concerns about the cost, and that’s exactly what this bill would do.

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