Senator Johnny Ray Turner, D-Prestonsburg, has filed legislation to protect Kentucky firefighters by expanding its Hepatitis B continued inoculation voucher program to include Hepatitis A vaccinations.
“With the outbreak and recurring spread of Hepatitis A in the commonwealth, firefighters from Harlan County approached me with concerns that some older firefighters have not had the Hepatitis A vaccine,” said Senator Turner. “Seeing the merit in their concerns, I looked into it and agreed that there was a need to provide the second vaccine. This is a safety and preventive measure.”
Senate Bill 140, which is cosponsored by Senator Brandon Smith, D-Hazard, would allow the Kentucky Fire Commission to pay costs for Hepatitis A vaccines, as it currently does for Hepatitis B vaccinations, for all paid and volunteer firefighters. Funding would come from revenues allocated to the Firefighters Foundation Program and be limited to $500,000 per fiscal year.
“It is important that we provide any protections when possible for firefighters,” said Senator Smith. “Their jobs are riddled with enough danger without having the fear of contracting Hepatitis A.”
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver often caused by a virus. Hepatitis A is caused by the Hepatitis A virus and Hepatitis B by the Hepatitis B virus.
The Hepatitis B vaccination vouchers would be continued through the program.
“This legislation could have significant impact on our firefighters and their health and well-being,” added Senator Turner. “They protect us, we should protect them.”
SB 140 will be considered during the 2019 Legislative Session.