Hepatitis A outbreak adds 65 cases in Florida

Florida had 65 newly reported hepatitis A cases last week, bringing the total number of cases this year to 2,675 as of Saturday.

Pasco, Pinellas, and Volusia counties continued to have the most cases, with 394, 368 and 242 cases, respectively. Marion County had the highest number of newly reported cases last week, with eight. Three other counties --- Lake, Manatee and Volusia --- each reported six new cases. Another three counties, Citrus, Pinellas and Sarasota, each had five new cases, according to a report posted on the Florida Department of Health website.

State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who doubles as secretary of the Department of Health, has stressed that vaccination is the best prevention against the virus, which can cause liver damage.

Since January, the state has had 220,184 vaccinations, state health officials report. Rivkees’ goal is to vaccinate about 392,000 people who are most at risk, he told lawmakers this month. Rivkees said he has beefed up the state’s vaccination efforts by hiring part-time staff at county health departments.

The majority of vaccinations, though, are being administered outside of county health departments. According to a tracking system called Florida SHOTS, county health departments have administered 41 percent of the vaccinations this year.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.