Global Shortage of hepatitis B vaccine caused by manufacturing process

Health professionals have warned that problems in the manufacturing process has caused a global shortage of the hepatitis B vaccine

Current update

Although supplies of the hepatitis B vaccine have improved in the past year, a backlog vaccinations which had to be deferred continue to cause problems and disrupt the healthcare system.

Ordering restrictions will remain in place in order to prioritise vaccinations for those at greater risk.

The mass supply of the hepatitis B vaccine will be re-introduced in a phased way.

The government are urging those ordering vaccinations to follow the advice in the recently published plan to support a managed process of catch-up vaccination.

Public Health England, the NHS and The Department of Health, as well as healthcare manufacturers, are working together to ensure those most at risk receive the appropriate care.

The groups have put together a series of measures so that the NHS and other providers can use the available vaccine to help those at immediate risk. Measures are expected to continue until the beginning of 2018 and will be kept under review.

Previous updates

There is a very low risk of catching hepatitis B in the UK.

In the UK, the hepatitis B vaccine is usually offered to individuals who are at specific risk of infection.

Those most at risk include: babies born to mothers who are infected with hepatitis B, the sexual partners of infected individuals and a range of other groups such as men who have sex with men, healthcare workers, and people who inject drugs.

Vaccination will still be available for those who have already been exposed to hepatitis B.

The infection can be prevented if treated as soon as possible after the exposing incident.

Hepatitis B virus is found in the blood and bodily fluids, such as semen and vaginal fluids, of an infected person. It cannot be spread by kissing, holding hands, hugging, coughing, sneezing, or sharing crockery and utensils.

It is recommended that anyone undertaking certain activities abroad that could expose them to the infection should seek medical advice from their doctor as soon as possible.

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