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Current global shortage of hepatitis B vaccine

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Staff Writer |
hepatitis B vaccine
Viruses   Problems in the manufacturing process

There is currently a global shortage of hepatitis B vaccine which has been caused by problems in the manufacturing process, the UK government warned.

Vaccine supplies have improved due to the resolution of manufacturing issues, but there will continue to be constraints this year due to the backlog of people (including some healthcare staff and students) whose vaccination was deferred last year.

To ensure people who most need vaccine are prioritised, ordering restrictions will remain in place and vaccine supply will be re-introduced in a phased way.

The risk of catching hepatitis B infection in the UK is very low.

In the UK, vaccination is usually offered to individuals who are at specific risk of being exposed to blood from an infected person.

This includes 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 is also recommended for people who will be undertaking certain activities overseas.

A course of hepatitis B vaccine usually involves 3 doses of vaccine, completed over a few months. While supplies are limited, vaccine will be prioritised for those at highest immediate risk based on their doctor’s assessment.

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

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.

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