Health ministry recommends Hepatitis-B vaccination for workers at increased risk of acquiring infection

New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry announced in an official statement on Friday that the Hepatitis-B vaccination is recommended for all healthcare workers with occupational exposure to the virus.

"On directions of Union Health Minister J P Nadda, the Health Ministry has taken a decision to vaccinate all healthcare workers who are at an increased risk of acquiring Hepatitis-B infection such as those involved in conducting deliveries, giving injections and exposed to blood or blood products," the statement said.

The Union Health Ministry will provide vaccinations to all exposed employees. Reuters.

The Union Health Ministry will provide vaccinations to all exposed employees. Reuters.

The statement further points to reports from India that indicate that only 16-60 percent of healthcare workers have received complete Hepatitis-B immunisation and that paramedics have a higher risk of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) transmission. They also receive HBV vaccination — which is effective in protecting 90-95 percent of recipients — less often than doctors.

Hepatitis-B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. The virus is highly contagious and is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.

"HBV infection is a well-recognised occupational risk for health-care workers (including trainees), and others (housekeeping staff, emergency workers) exposed to infected blood and body fluids or blood-contaminated environments," the statement added. It also pointed out that healthcare workers are often unaware of all exposures to potentially infectious blood and body fluids, and that even when exposures are recognised, healthcare workers often do not seek post-exposure prophylactic management.

The Ministry is already taking many initiatives to prevent Hepatitis-B which include the vaccine that is given at birth and as a part of routine immunisation under the Universal Immunization Programme. "It is a major global health problem and the most serious type of viral hepatitis. It is estimated that about 780,000 people die each year due to consequences of Hepatitis B, such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer," the statement said.

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Updated Date: Jun 01, 2018 22:18:35 IST