HEPATITIS A: Bill Would Mandate Inoculations
Concerned by the rise of hepatitis A among Californians, state legislators are debating whether to add the hepatitis A vaccine to the list of immunizations children in the state must receive before entering kindergarten. While the national rate for hepatitis A infection is 10 per 100,000 people, that rate is more than double in California, at 21 cases per 100,000 people. The disparity led the CDC to recommend that California and 10 other Western states with high rates "implement mandatory vaccinations." AB 1594, introduced by Assemblyman Dean Florez (D-Shafter), would require the vaccination for school children beginning July 1, 2001. "Until recently, hepatitis A shots were only recommended to people traveling to countries where the incidence is high," the Modesto Bee reports. But a series of outbreaks in the 1990s, most notably in Stanislaus County in 1993, alarmed public health officials. The FDA approved the vaccine, which consists of a series of two shots costing $25 each, in 1995. Under AB 1594, the immunizations would be covered under private insurance and Medi-Cal. Dr. Philip Rosenthal, professor of pediatrics and surgery at the University of California-San Francisco, said, "This bill would help protect California families" (Birch, 8/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.