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UK supply of hepatitis B vaccine ‘severely affected’ by global shortages

Global shortages of the hepatitis B vaccine have ‘severely impacted UK supply’, health officials have said.
Hepatitis B vaccine

Global shortages of the hepatitis B vaccine have 'severely impacted UK supply', health officials have said.

Public Health England (PHE) has set out how health professionals can prioritise those most at risk.

Priority list

Some people seeking vaccination such as travellers may face delays as a result.

PHE has set out a priority list of those who need the vaccine the most.

Babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B are at the top of the list.

Among those placed in the second priority group are people who have had a needle-stick injury from a known positive person and those who have sexual exposure.

Booster jabs

Those considered at lowest risk are people seeking booster

Global shortages of the hepatitis B vaccine have 'severely impacted UK supply', health officials have said.


In light of the Hepatitis B vaccine shortage, Public Health England
has set out priority at-risk guidelines for health professionals 

Public Health England (PHE) has set out how health professionals can prioritise those most at risk.

Priority list

Some people seeking vaccination – such as travellers – may face delays as a result.

PHE has set out a priority list of those who need the vaccine the most.

Babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B are at the top of the list.

Among those placed in the second priority group are people who have had a needle-stick injury from a known positive person and those who have sexual exposure.

Booster jabs

Those considered at lowest risk are people seeking booster jabs, having already completed a primary course of immunisation.

And travellers to ‘medium and high endemicity countries’ are considered to be the second lowest priority for the vaccine.

PHE said that while supplies are limited, the vaccine will be prioritised for those at highest immediate risk based on their health professional's assessment.

Deferred vaccine

For other people, a doctor may advise that the hepatitis B vaccine can be deferred until later.

Its new document for health professionals states: ‘Temporary recommendationsm on hepatitis B immunisation have been developed in light of recent global shortages of hepatitis B vaccine, including combination hepatitis A/B vaccine, which have severely impacted UK supply.’

However, the supply issues do not affect the ‘six in one’ vaccine – which protects against hepatitis B as well as other childhood diseases – and is given as part of the routine childhood immunisation programme.

Some travellers are advised to get the immunisation before travelling abroad, dependent on the length of their stay and the activities they undertake.

Higher risk of exposure

Areas where there is a higher risk of exposure to hepatitis B include Africa, India, China, South and Central America and South East Asia.

Risk for travellers is low although certain behaviours or activities put people at higher risk, including long-stay travel and unprotected sex.

The PHE guide for health professionals adds: ‘A risk assessment should be done on a case-by-case basis to determine whether vaccination against hepatitis B is indicated, but it is unlikely to be available for travel purposes alone.’

Further information

Hepatitis B: vaccine recommendations during supply constraints


In other news

 

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