CAS alert: Shortage of adult hepatitis B vaccine

CAS alert: Shortage of adult hepatitis B vaccine

August 8, 2017

Following a global shortage of hepatitis B vaccine which is severely affecting the UK supply, Public Health England (PHE) has developed temporary recommendations to support clinicians undertaking individual risk assessments to ensure that stock is available for those individuals at highest and most immediate risk of exposure to hepatitis B.

PHE and the Department of Health have also been working with both vaccine manufacturers to institute ordering restrictions according to customer type. The allocation is based on an agreed assessment of the proportion of vaccines used by those customers for individuals in the highest priority groups. As a consequence, some providers may not be able to order any stock and others will have limits applied to their orders. A mechanism will be in place to allow for exceptional orders if an individual risk assessment indicates an urgent need. Individuals for whom vaccination is deferred should be offered advice on how to minimise risk of exposure, and on the action to take if a significant exposure occurs. Sexual health and travel clinics, in particular, should offer advice on risk reduction.

PHE has also sent out a letter to community pharmacies, via an email from the NHS Business Services Authority, to provide specific recommendations for community pharmacy on this matter.

The situation is under constant review, to help sustain supply of vaccinations for the rest of the year.

Click here to view the CAS alert.

NHS Flu Vaccination Service 2017/18

A requirement of the NHS Flu Vaccination Service is that staff involved in the provision of the service are advised that they should consider being vaccinated against hepatitis B and be advised of the risks should they decide not to be vaccinated. Being vaccinated against hepatitis B is also recommended in the Green Book, chapter 12 Immunisation of healthcare and laboratory staff for any staff who are at risk of injury from blood-contaminated sharp instruments.

If pharmacists have not already been vaccinated against hepatitis B, they are unlikely to be able to get vaccinated due to the shortage of vaccines. Pharmacists will therefore need to consider the risks before deciding if they wish to offer the service without being vaccinated.

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