BayCare Collaborates with FDOH to Provide Hepatitis A Vaccines
When health officials across Tampa Bay saw hepatitis A infection rates skyrocketing last year, BayCare joined the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in the fight against the outbreak.
As a leading health system in the region, BayCare quickly rolled out protocols across the system to help vaccinate and educate the community about hepatitis A.
BayCare provided 465 hepatitis A vaccines to adult patients in hospital emergency rooms and behavioral health facilities across the system in 2019. During that time, the system also issued more than 900 vaccines to team members.
“The health and wellbeing of our community is really important to us,” said Nishant Anand, MD, FACEP, chief medical officer and executive vice president for BayCare. “We’re proud to collaborate with FDOH and local health officials to provide vaccines to our patients and team members.”
BayCare has implemented a rapid diagnosis process to catch the virus earlier and also vaccinate people who need it most. Patients that show signs of hepatitis A receive immediate treatment.
FDOH is seeing a recent decline in hepatitis A cases since declaring a public emergency in August – particularly in Pinellas County, which had been a hot spot for the virus. There are currently 142 cases across the state, which is lower than this time last year. Since 2018, there have been more than 2,500 cases in Florida.
“That’s promising news, but it’s important that we remain vigilant,” said Anand. “As a health system, we continue to stay prepared to treat and minimize the spread of infections today and in the future.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks. Some of the symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and joint pain.
“Hand washing is critical to prevent hepatitis A contraction,” Dr. Anand said. “However, as FDOH emphasizes, vaccination is the best protection from the virus for high risk individuals.”
For more information on hepatitis A, visit FDOH’s website.