SEATTLE (AP) – Seattle-area public health officials say they are expanding their hepatitis A vaccination program to help prevent an outbreak of the highly contagious disease among people who are homeless.

The Seattle Times reports the Seattle and King County health department announced Wednesday a $375,000 commitment to expand the free vaccination program.

Department health officer Jeff Duchin says the program is geared for homeless people who are at an increased risk of contracting the disease.

UW Medicine viral hepatitis expert John Scott says the disease can spread through contaminated food or water.

He says people experiencing homelessness are vulnerable because of crowding and lacking access to sanitation.

Duchin says King County officials have vaccinated 2,200 people against hepatitis A in the past 18 months.

Information from: The Seattle Times,

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