Restrictions imposed on Hep B vaccine

CREDIT: This story was first seen in OnMedica

New guidance means GP practices will be unable to order stocks of adult Hepatitis B vaccine “until further notice” to ensure sufficient supply for individuals with the highest risk of exposure to the vaccine, OnMedica reports.

The guidance comes in response to a global shortage of vaccine which has led to what Public Health England describes as an “acute impact’ on UK reserves.

In a letter to GPs explaining the moves PHE says that ordering restrictions for patients in at-risk groups have been agreed between manufacturers, the BMA’s GP Committee(GPC)  and the Department of Health.

The letter states: “It has been agreed with the [GPC] that general practice will not be able to order any adult hepatitis B vaccine stock until further notice.”

Travel to a high risk area is unlikely to be sufficient for vaccination and other cases such as healthcare staff and household contacts of people with hep B should be risk assessed.

The guidance says: “A risk assessment should be done on a case by case basis to determine whether vaccination against hepatitis B is indicated but it is unlikely to be available for travel purposes alone.”

GPs are advised not to delay administering paediatric monovalent hepatitis B vaccine for babies born to a hep B positive mother, the highest priority group, with any restrictions on volume of orders able to be overridden.

And the routine childhood immunisation programme starting from late September is also not affected.

The guidance says restrictions are in place to prioritise vaccine for post exposure vaccination (particularly infants born to infected mothers) and to prevent stock from being exhausted rapidly.

“Providers should order only the essential stock for immediate use and should not stockpile. Responsible ordering will help preserve scarce stock for those in greatest need.”

PHE says that public awareness materials are also under development.

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