Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

County/N Florida News

Hepatitis A: Florida Dept of Health Elevates Hep-A from an Advisory to Public Health Emergency

Lead graphic: Hepatitis A is serious busines. Blackboard written over and over again, "I must wash my hands."
County Health Administrator Tom Moffses appeared before the County 5 to explain the seriousness of the Hepatitis A outbreak in Florida.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – On August 1, 2019, Florida's Surgeon General elevated the 2018 Hepatitis A Public Health Advisory to a Public Health Emergency. On Thursday evening, Columbia County Dept. of Health Administrator Tom Moffses came to the County 5 to get them up to speed.

This Is a Big Deal
What is a Public Health Emergency?

Columbia County Commissioner, Ronald Williams
Long time commissioner Ronald Williams asked the media to get the Hep-A word out.

A Public Health Emergency is defined in the Florida statutes. It is any occurrence, or threat which results or may result "in substantial injury or harm to the public health from infectious disease..."

Before declaring a public health emergency, the Surgeon General must consult with the Governor and notify the Chief of Domestic Security.

The declaration of a public health emergency must continue until the Surgeon General finds that the threat or danger has been dealt with to the extent that the emergency conditions no longer exist.

The declaration of a public health emergency may not continue for longer than 60 days unless the Governor concurs in the renewal of the declaration.

After the public health emergency declaration, the Surgeon General takes actions that are necessary to protect the public health.

Tom Moffses: County Health Department Administrator
"We have been monitoring this"

Columbia County Health Department Administrator, Tom Moffses
Tom Moffses was all business at the County 5.

On Thursday evening, August 15, County Health Department Administrator Tom Moffses, of his own accord, came before the County 5 to apprise it of the Hep-A situation.

He told The 5, "We have been monitoring this in Columbia County for the last several months... This was something that was taking place along the I-4 corridor; it is gradually starting to move up the I-75 corridor. As of today there are four active cases in Columbia County."

Mr. Moffses continued, "When we reach 5 that will give us a little more assistance from the state. When we reach 8 they start to extrapolate – what is your percentage per 100k. And then we are really under the microscope to try and combat this."

Mr. Moffses explained that Hep-A is typically transferred through food.

"Right now what we are seeing across the state are drug users, intravenous drug users, homeless populations of all types, and those that normally have sex with men [men with men] – they are the most susceptible right now."

hand holding a syringe to give vaccinationMr. Moffses said the Department recommends those folks get vaccinated along with those in the jails and that the department will be giving vaccinations for free to populations at risk.

He explained, "The Department is also working with the school district and its teachers."

County 5 Chairman Ronald Williams asked that the local media get the word out on the Hep-A situation.

A resident asked, "How much do the shots cost?"

Mr. Moffses answered, "We're not charging anybody. We're trying to make sure that all of our – we're trying to take care of the county residents."

On Sunday afternoon your reporter spoke with Health Administrator Moffses.

Mr. Moffses explained that the Health Emergency is for all of Florida and that anybody that shows up at the Columbia County Health Department will be able to be vaccinated. "One does not have to be a County resident," he said.

Mr. Moffses advised that vaccinations are available at the County Health Department, 217 NE Franklin Street, Lake City, FL 32055. Phone: (386) 758-1068.

He added, "If you need a Hep-A vaccine, please stop by the Columbia County Health Department Monday - Friday, 8am-noon, and 1pm – 5pm."

Comments  (to add a comment go here) 

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.