Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

New WHO data on immunization coverage estimates on hepatitis B infections

A healthcare worker in Viet Nam with a newborn infant
A healthcare worker in Viet Nam with a newborn infant
WHO/P. Blanc

A new data dashboard has been published by WHO that provides estimates of hepatitis B infections at the global regional and country levels and shows how the data has changed since hepatitis B vaccination was introduced.

The analysis was carried out in children under 5 years of age and in the general population. The data provides the best estimates on hepatitis B infections in the 194 WHO Member States and aims to facilitate the comparability across countries and over time.

WHO’s estimates uses a methodology reviewed by the Immunization and Vaccines Related Implementation Research Advisory Committee and was also presented by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunization.

In an updated hepatitis B vaccines position paper published in July 2017, WHO provided updated information on hepatitis B vaccines. The recommendations concern the target groups for vaccination and the appropriate schedules. In particular, the recommendations stress the importance of vaccination of all infants at birth as the most effective intervention for the prevention of hepatitis B virus-associated disease worldwide.

Reaching all children with at least 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine should be the standard for all national immunization programmes.

National strategies to prevent perinatal transmission should ensure high and timely coverage of the birth dose through a combination of strengthened maternal and infant care at birth with skilled health workers present to administer the vaccine, and innovative outreach strategies to provide vaccine for infants born at home.

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