TRAVEL HEALTH NEWS
Hepatitis B Vaccination
Due to a global shortage we are unable to get hepatitis B vaccinations.
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
Please visit the NaTHNaC website for a full list of countries for which hepatitis B vaccine may be recommended prior to travel. A detailed risk assessment should be done on a case by case basis to determine whether vaccination against hepatitis B is actually indicated.
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
Hepatitis B vaccination temporary recommendations
Any traveller can be at risk of an accident or require emergency treatment. Travellers should be aware that using precautions will also help protect against other blood and body fluid-borne viruses (BBV), such as HIV and hepatitis C, for which there are currently no vaccines. A sterile medical equipment kit may be helpful when travelling to resource poor areas with high endemicity of hepatitis B. Travellers should be informed about seeking advice, and consideration of post exposure, vaccination if they may have been exposed to hepatitis B.
Hepatitis A Vaccination
Due to a global shortage we are only able to get a restricted supply of hepatitis A vaccines.
Therefore Hepatitis A vaccine use will be prioritised; an effective risk assessment will ensure vaccine recommendations are appropriate, help identify higher risk travelers.
To reduce risk Always wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and prior to eating.
Avoid the following risk factors:
eating food prepared by someone with the infection who hasn't washed their hands properly, or washed them in water contaminated with sewage
drinking contaminated water (including ice cubes)
eating raw or undercooked shellfish from contaminated water
close contact with someone who has hepatitis A
having sex with someone who has the infection – particularly if you touch their rectum (back passage) with your fingers, mouth or tongue
injecting drugs using equipment contaminated with the hepatitis A virus
- Hepatitis A is found worldwide, but areas where it's most widespread include:
- sub-Saharan and northern Africa
- the Indian subcontinent (particularly India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal)
- some parts of the Far East (excluding Japan)
- the Middle East
- South and Central America
For information about the potential health risks in a specific country, check the Nathnac website
For further advice please contact Sara Davison RGN