Nanakuli firefighters vaccinated after Hepatitis A scare

HFD rushes to vaccinate Nanakuli fire house after Hepatitis A scare
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was business as usual Friday at the Nanakuli Fire Department.

But the head of the Hawaii Firefighters Association, Bobby Lee, is concerned about the health of firefighters at the station.

That's because this week, state health officials say the station's firefighters could have been exposed to Hepatitis A.

The potential exposure happened earlier this month, when a woman brought food to the fire station as a token of her appreciation. She later tested positive for Hepatitis A as part of an ongoing outbreak.

"Our job is different than anybody else because our firefighters live in the station 24 hours," Lee said. "If we get a Hepatitis A confirmed case in one of our stations, there are a number of other firefighters that could be exposed."

Honolulu Fire Department Capt. David Jenkins said that after HFD was alerted to the potential exposure, all firefighters who didn't previously have the Hepatitis A shot got vaccinated.

"There were some that were already vaccinated through their own health care providers," Jenkins said. "A total of nine firefighters were provided with the vaccination the next day."

But Lee says the situation wouldn't be as serious if HFD's administration had set up vaccination clinics at all Honolulu fire stations when the outbreak was first reported in July.

Although the shot is covered by insurance, it was up to each firefighter to take the time to get it.

"I feel it's very irresponsible," Lee said. "Now more so, when you hear something like this. Firefighters are starting to get really upset."

Shortly after 5 p.m., fire officials said in a statement that HFD had informed its personnel of Hepatitis A "routes and prevention measures."

"The HFD has also emphasized to its personnel the importance of adhering to the public health guidelines concerning hand washing and obtaining the Hepatitis A vaccination for their healthcare provider," the statement said.

Meanwhile, fire officials later got word from the state Health Department that the food delivered to the Nanakuli station was prepared in a restaurant. That means the chances of contamination are low.

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