Hepatitis B shortage in the UK

06 Oct 2017

We are currently not starting any new courses of Hep B due to the national shortage.  People who have started vaccine courses recently with Well Travelled Clinics, should be able to complete them other than boosters.

There is currently a shortage of Hepatitis B vaccine in the United Kingdom and across the world. At present, some vaccines are not available or may be reserved for special at-risk groups.

Because of this shortage, Public Health England have issued new temporary clinical guidelines to healthcare staff across the UK

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hepatitis-b-vaccine-recommend...

The guidance aims to preserve the small amounts of Hepatitis B vaccine stocks left, by using doses sparingly for those who are at highest risk.

The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) provides Hepatitis B immunisation recommendations for travellers. Risk for travellers is low although certain behaviours or activities put individuals at higher risk, particularly when these occur in areas where hepatitis B is more common. These behaviours and activities include:

• unprotected sex

• exposure to blood or blood products through occupation, such as healthcare work

• exposure to contaminated needles through injecting drug use, or as a result of accessing medical or dental care

• long stay travel

Because of this new temporary guidance, Hepatitis B vaccination may not be recommended for many travellers visiting a number of countries.

When you visit our clinics, the nurse/doctor will carry out a travel risk assessment with you and go through all the vaccines that are recommended for your trip, including whether Hepatitis B is recommended. 

 We cannot offer this service over the telephone or by email.

 A £20 appointment fee per person is charged if no vaccines/malaria tablets are bought on the day. This fee is waived if vaccines/malaria tablets are bought on the day.

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver transmitted by contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. The risk of contracting hepatitis B infection for most travellers is low. All travellers should also be reminded to avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids by:

• avoiding unprotected sexual intercourse

• using appropriate protective precautions where contact is unavoidable e.g. due to occupation

• avoiding tattooing, piercing and acupuncture (unless sterile equipment is used)

• not sharing needles or other injection equipment

• not sharing shaving equipment

Further information on Hepatitis B can be found here:

https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/50/hepatitis-b