266697 Hepatitis A & B prevention and screening in local police departments

Monday, October 29, 2012

Amy B. Jessop, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Policy and Public Health, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Glenn Solomon , Department of Health Policy and Public Health, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Felicia Del Buono , Biomedical Writing, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
James Rogers, PhD , Department of Political Science, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Police officers, as first responders, may be occupationally exposed to blood, body fluids, and contaminated flood waters. While the risk of infections from these exposures is low, for vaccine-preventable infections like hepatitis A and B, this risk can be reduced or eliminated. In most states, police departments are not obligated to require or offer hepatitis A or hepatitis B vaccine to their officers. Our toll-free hepatitis hotline routinely receives calls from emergency personnel concerned about potentially infectious exposures. Few, if any, of these callers report history of hepatitis vaccination. This project was designed to describe the recording and response practices for potentially infectious exposures and determine the hepatitis vaccination requirements and opportunities for police officers in southeast Pennsylvania.

Methods: Using a modified Dillman's method, we collected data by survey of 174 police departments in 5 Pennsylvania counties. Commissioners or captains were asked about department size, recording of exposures, type and frequency of infection (particularly hepatitis) prevention education, hepatitis testing requirements, requirements and opportunities for hepatitis and other vaccinations, and if available, officer vaccination rates.

Results: We report the aggregate characteristics of the departments and their reported policies and procedures. We also report on differences by department size and county. Department practices varied widely. Few departments required vaccination and even fewer are able to determine vaccination rates.

Conclusions: Those assigned to protect us should receive protection against on-the-job infections. Cross-department coordination of policies and practices and increased education about and opportunity for vaccination could reduce risk for occupational infections.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the police department policies for preventing hepatitis infections. Discuss potential opportunities to improve infection prevention.

Keywords: Infectious Diseases, Workplace Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Amy Jessop has 15 years experience conducting research, program development and administration, and evaluation in infection control and viral hepatitis prevention and treatment. She has published and presented her work in numerous national settings. She designed and oversaw the project presented in this abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.