COMMENTARY

Speaking of Hepatitis, We Have 'A' Vaccine

William F. Balistreri, MD

Disclosures

July 12, 2013

In This Article

Rising Visibility, but Outbreaks Continue

The headline read:

"Few children get hepatitis A in frozen berry outbreak. As the deadly liver disease spreads to seven states, experts credit vaccinations with keeping children safe."[1]

Since 1995, when the first hepatitis A vaccines became available in the United States, the recommendations for its use have been expanded incrementally. In 1996, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended vaccination of children on the basis of risk, and then in 1999 for children in certain high-prevalence geographic areas. In 2007, it was recommended as a universal vaccine, to be given at 1 year of age. The World Health Organization recently released recommendations on the global use of the hepatitis A vaccine, suggesting that the vaccine be integrated into the national immunization schedule for children aged 1 year or older if indicated on the basis of incidence of acute hepatitis A and consideration of cost-effectiveness.[2] They concluded that vaccination against hepatitis A should be part of a comprehensive plan for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis, including measures to improve hygiene, sanitation, and measures for outbreak control.

The vaccination of older individuals was based on risk or desire for protection; therefore, we continue to hear about outbreaks, primarily affecting adults.

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