Experts recommend universal infant hepatitis B immunisation

January 20th, 2009 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Jan 20 (IANS) Medical experts have recommended that all countries should offer infant immunisation for hepatitis-B.Studies suggest that roughly a third of chronic hepatitis-B infections are acquired during infancy and early childhood.

While vaccination for adolescents offers protection, booster shots are unnecessary for those who were immunised as babies.

In Canada, British Columbia (BC), New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are the only provinces to offer universal hepatitis-B vaccination to infants.

The incidence of acute hepatitis-B in BC is now consistently below the national average, after years of having a higher incidence rate. Globally, 98 percent of universal hepatitis B immunisation programmes are offered in infancy.

“The few jurisdictions that continue to offer universal immunisation in adolescence rather than infancy should consider changing to an infant programme,” wrote Christopher Mackie of McMaster University and co-author of the study, said a McMaster release.

The analysis appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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