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Immunization plan: Hepatitis B vaccination postponed, HPV prevention added

Hepatitis b cases have declined substancially over the last 12 years.
Hepatitis b cases have declined substancially over the last 12 years. Source: (AFP/Scanpix)

According to the current immunization plan, newborns are vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus on their first day, with follow-up injections after one and six months. Starting 2018, a new regulation will postpone the vaccination. 

The new immunization plan calls for vaccination against hepatitis B at the same time as against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and hemophilia B. Children will be vaccinated at the age of three, four, five, and six months. A booster injection will then be added when they are two years old.

The new regulation is a response to the changed situation concerning hepatitis B. Over the past 12 years, the number of cases reported in Estonia has decreased significantly, which has made the immunization a less urgent matter.

In 2002, before the introduction of the first hepatitis B immunization plan, 17.9 cases per 100,000 people were reported. Since 2010, fewer than two cases per 100,000 have occurred, and fewer than one in all years since 2012.

Vaccination immediately after birth will continue for all newborns belonging to a high-risk group, including babies born to infected mothers, and those born to mothers who were not tested for HBsAg (the surface antigen of the hepatitis B virus) during their pregnancy.

Among other changes, the new immunization plan also calls for a vaccination of 12-year-old girls against the human papilloma virus (HPV) in two doses. More than a hundred different genotypes of this virus are known, some of which with a high risk of cancer.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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