LOS ANGELES, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- California's governor Jerry Brown declared Friday a state of emergency amid the deadly hepatitis A outbreak that has killed at least 18 people in the western U.S. state.
The emergency proclamation will allow the state to increase the supply of adult hepatitis A vaccines to meet current needs, aiming to help control the hepatitis A outbreak in the state.
The declaration will also allow California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to immediately purchase additional vaccines directly from manufacturers and coordinate distribution to people at greatest risk in affected areas.
"Vaccinating people at risk of exposure is the most effective tool we have to prevent the spread of hepatitis A infection during an outbreak," said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith in a press release.
According to CDPH, nearly 80,000 doses of the vaccine that were obtained through the federal vaccine program has already been distributed.
"Local public health officials are working hard to offer vaccines to people who are at the most at risk of infection, including homeless Californians," said Smith.
"Today's order will help ensure communities can continue to deliver the vaccines where they are needed most," she added.
California is experiencing the largest hepatitis A outbreak in the country. The outbreak began in homeless community in the Southern California city of San Diego in late 2016 and spread to other counties of the state.