Hepatitis B vaccine supply is now sufficient to extend vaccination to lower priority groups, Public Health England (PHE) has announced.
Since mid-2017 the UK has experienced a shortage of hepatitis B vaccine due to global manufacturing issues and had restricted supply to those at highest immediate risk. PHE and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) had planned a phased reintroduction of hepatitis B vaccination for relevant patient populations this year, following the stabilising of supply.
Having received assurances from manufacturers that the planned supply of the vaccine is now sufficient, PHE and the DHSC have agreed to accelerate the phased reintroduction of hepatitis B vaccination for lower priority groups, as detailed in the initial recovery plan. Vaccination is now available for household contacts of people with hepatitis B; most healthcare workers and ancillary staff in UK healthcare settings; other occupations at risk of percutaneous exposure; those travelling to medium and high endemic countries; and individuals with cirrhotic liver disease.
To prevent excessive stockpiling and to ensure that backlog or catch-up vaccination can continue, some ordering restrictions will remain in place. If a vaccine order cannot be fulfilled by one manufacturer, PHE has advised checking with another.
As forecasts are dependent on expected vaccine deliveries and sales, PHE will continue to monitor the situation and update as required.