Hepatitis B vaccine rationed in UK due to global shortage

A temporary limit on who can have a hepatitis B vaccination has been implemented by health officials in the UK

The new measures are due to a global shortage of hepatitis B vaccinations, which are down to manufacturing issues.

Public Health England along with NHS England, the Department of Health and manufacturers have put in place a series of measures so that the NHS and other providers can use the available vaccine for those at highest immediate risk.

A spokesperson for Public Health England said: “All those who need to have a hepatitis B vaccine will be offered it in due course.”

Babies and high-risk groups will be prioritised under the measures that are expected to continue into 2018.

The risk of contracting hepatitis B in the UK is very low and vaccinations are usually offered to people who are at a specific risk of being exposed to blood from an infected person.

Individuals at a higher-risk include, babies born to mothers who are infected with hepatitis B, people who inject drugs and healthcare workers.

Vaccinations are also recommended for people who will be undertaking certain activities overseas.

Under the new measures, people travelling from the UK to higher risk countries are being told that they may not be able to get the jab before they leave the country.

The current global shortage is also affecting stocks in private clinics, as well as the NHS and despite manufacturers getting more stock, supplied are limited.

What is hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a virus which is found in the blood and bodily fluids of an infected person. It cannot be spread by kissing, holding hands, hugging, coughing or sneezing.

Symptoms of the infection include tiredness, fever, loss of appetite, jaundice and feeling and being sick.

Healthcare officials recommend that you can reduce the risk of contracting hepatitis B by taking care to: avoid unprotected sex, not inject drugs, or by not sharing needles when injecting, avoid having tattoos, piercing or acupuncture when overseas.

Although the risk of catching the infection is very low in the UK, in some parts of the world, including East Asia and Sub Saharan Africa, the infection is more widespread.

 

 

 

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