Issues in aging

October 2010

Research

Hepatitis A and B vaccination

The rate of uptake and course completion in patients with hepatitis C

Volume 39, No.10, October 2010 Pages 784-786

Trinity Fredericks

Kellie Kwan

Donna B Mak

Background

Western Australian general practitioners may order Department of Health funded hepatitis A and B vaccines for patients newly notified with hepatitis C to prevent complications associated with co-infections. The aim of this study was to determine vaccination uptake of hepatitis C patients through this program.

Methods

We reviewed hepatitis C notifications and hepatitis A and B vaccine orders received in 2007 and 2008 to determine the rate of vaccine uptake and course completion.

Results

Vaccination orders for initial doses were received for 37% (448/1209) of patients. Vaccination uptake was positively associated with age and non- Aboriginality. Final vaccination doses were ordered for 30% of patients for whom an initial order had been received.

Discussion

Uptake of hepatitis A and B vaccination was higher than that of similar populations. However, vaccination course completion was low. General practitioners need to emphasise to their patients the importance of completing a vaccine course.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the most commonly reported infectious diseases in Australia and represents a major public health concern. In the 16 year period from 1990 to 2005, over 225 000 people in Australia tested positive for hepatitis C antibodies.1 There are an estimated 8000–12 000 new HCV infections annually,2 80–90% of which are attributed to injecting drug use.3 Injecting drug users are also at higher risk of exposure to hepatitis B virus (HBV) due to common risk factors and modes of transmission.2

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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