Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is a viral liver infection which is usually self-limiting, but may develop into fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure). Annually, there are an estimated 20 million hepatitis E infections, over 3 million acute cases of hepatitis E, and over 57,000 hepatitis E-related deaths.

Hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly via the faecal/oral route through ingestion of contaminated drinking water. Other, less common, transmission routes have been identified including through ingestion of food products derived from infected animals and shellfish; transfusion of infected blood products; and vertical transmission in pregnancy.

Currently, there are no WHO pre-qualified vaccines against hepatitis E. In 2011, the first vaccine to prevent hepatitis E infection was registered in China.

A Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization Working Group on Hepatitis E was established in October 2013 to review the existing data on the safety, immunogenicity, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of the hepatitis E vaccine. The target date for publication of the WHO position paper on hepatitis E vaccine is early 2015.

In the absence of internationally available vaccines, WHO recommends prevention of hepatitis E infection and transmission by maintaining quality standards for public water sources and proper disposal of sanitary waste, as well as maintenance of personal hygiene practice and avoiding drinking water and/or ice of unknown purity while in areas of high endemicity.

WHO position papers

Disease burden and surveillance

Vaccine topics

There are no WHO pre-qualified vaccines against Hepatitis E virus.

Programmes / Partnerships

Further information

Last updated: 19 October 2015


29 January 2016

20 January 2016

Call for nomination of experts to serve on the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization (SAGE) Working Group on Typhoid Vaccines

13 January 2016

Call for expression of interest to consolidate, analyse and disseminate information on home based records for immunization

11 January 2016

Call for Expressions of Interest to maintain and enhance the WHO Immunization Repository using DHIS2

17 December 2015

Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (IPAC): CALL FOR NOMINATIONS