Can a Hepatitis B vaccination in preadolescents lower the incidence rate?

An image to illustrate Hepatitis B
© iStock/Melpomenem

A study in which the University of Barcelona has took part has found that a Hepatitis B vaccination in Catalonia lowered the incidence rate of the disease.

Systematic vaccination for Hepatitis B in preadolescents was introduced in Catalonia in 1991. The vaccination in preadolescents was suspended in July 2014, when the first children had been vaccinated in 2002 reached preadolescence, so they did not need the Hepatitis B vaccination again.

Hepatitis B

The University of Barcelona regard Hepatitis B as globally important viral disease due its morbidity, mortality and high chronicity in children. It also notes that:

•Chronicity increases the risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma; and
• Patients with a chronic disease are permanent transmitters of the virus.

The researchers add: “So far, only risk groups were vaccinated, such as those working in the health sector or haemophiliac and haemodialytic patients. However, this type of vaccination was not enough to reduce the incidence.”

The study

The researchers retrospectively studied:

  •  Vaccinated and non-vaccinated cohorts which were chosen according to their year of birth; and
  •  The cases of Hepatitis B between 2000 and 2014 that were registered by the Sub-Directorate General for Epidemiological Surveillance and Public Health Emergency Response of the Public Health Agency of Catalonia.

The Hepatitis B Vaccination and a decline in incidence

The study analysed the efficiency and the impact of the vaccination. According to the study, the Hepatitis B vaccination in preadolescents led to a decline in the disease incidence rate by 52 percent. After introducing the program, the incidence rate in the general population decreased from 2.5 per 100,000 people in 1991 to 1.2 per 100,000 people in 2014.

The benefit for the community

The efficiency of the program has been measured at 99.30 percent, while the associated benefit to estimate the prevented fraction was of 64.56 percent. The researchers state that these results show that, the “efficiency and impact of the vaccination program for Hepatitis B in preadolescents are high, benefiting the community”.

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