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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 46  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4-6
Is it the right time to introduce the hepatitis B booster vaccine in national immunization schedule? An analysis from the available evidence

1 Department of Community Medicine, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
2 Izmir University of Economics, Faculty of Medicine, Izmir, Turkey
3 Department of Community Medicine, MM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, MM Deemed University, Mullana, Haryana, India
4 School of Public Health, SRM University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
5 Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sudip Bhattacharya
HIHT Campus, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijcm.IJCM_439_19

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Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a global health concern, and it is considered one of the deadliest infections in the world, having nearly 1.2 million deaths annually. Around 75% of all global HBV carriers live in the Asia-Pacific region. In this regard, India has a prevalence ranging between 2% and 7% with exposure rates of 10%–60%. Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable disease. In India, the World Health Organization protocol for hepatitis B vaccination has been followed, and it is given free of cost in public health facilities under the National Immunization Schedule. Despite the free hepatitis vaccination program in India, coverage and awareness are low. Low awareness, followed by low coverage of hepatitis vaccination, can prove dangerous for the Indian population in the long run. A majority of chronic hepatitis cases progress silently to end-stage liver disease without having many signs and symptoms. Once occurred, a complete cure is not possible with currently available drugs. The studies from neighboring countries such as China and Taiwan documented that the impact of single-dose booster for children of 10 years has made a significant difference from the cost-effectiveness perspective. They have also included the booster dose in their national vaccination program. Considering the low level of vaccination awareness, small coverage, high disease burden, and high treatment cost, now, it is high time for India to introduce hepatitis B booster vaccine.

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