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Reuters Health Information (2004-11-05): Britain urged to adopt hepatitis B vaccine programme

Public Health

Britain urged to adopt hepatitis B vaccine programme

Last Updated: 2004-11-05 10:40:10 -0400 (Reuters Health)

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain was urged on Friday to follow the example of many other countries and adopt a universal hepatitis B vaccination programme.

While other developed countries have hepatitis B vaccine programmes, Britain only immunises high-risk groups such as health workers, drug addicts and homosexual men.

"Immunisation strategies targeting multiple risk groups have failed to provide adequate coverage in Britain and should be replaced by universal immunisation," Nicholas Beeching, of Liverpool University Hospital, said in an editorial in The British Medical Journal.

No one at the Department of Health was immediately available to comment.

Each year in Britain there are about 4,500 acute cases of hepatitis B infections and more than 7,500 new cases of chronic infections. The estimated cost to the state-funded National Health Service is between 26 million and 375 million pounds per year, he added.

"As the cost of vaccines has fallen, universal immunisation strategies have been adopted by over 150 countries, with evidence of effectiveness lasting more than 10 years."

In a clinical review of research into preventing and treating hepatitis B infection that was published in the journal, Rakesh Aggarwal, of the Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow, India said vaccination is the mainstay of prevention.

"Hepatitis B vaccines are highly effective, long-acting, and safe, making prevention and even eventual eradication possible," he said.

 
 
 
 
                 
 
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