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Keywords:

  • hepatitis B;
  • universal vaccination;
  • Europe

Abstract

In the nine years since the Global Advisory Group of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (WHO) set 1997 as the target for integrating hepatitis B vaccination into national immunisation programmes worldwide, 129 countries have included hepatitis B vaccine as part of their routine infant or adolescent immunisation programmes (June 2001). By the end of 2002, 41 out of the 51 countries of the WHO European Region will be implementing universal hepatitis B immunisation. The rewards of effective implementation of the programmes in countries that started 10 years ago are becoming apparent; and their success offers an exemplary model for other countries. Some other countries, however, have difficulties to incorporate hepatitis B vaccine into universal childhood immunisation programmes, because of major economic constrains and the inability to procure a constant vaccine supply. The next decade will be characterised by expanded use of hepatitis B vaccines and the increasing efforts to sustain vaccine programmes and make the vaccine available to those countries and regions that cannot afford it. In Europe, as well as in the rest of the world, work still remains to be done to support and implement interventions that will bring us closer to the WHO goal and to eradicate hepatitis B. J. Med. Virol. 67:433–439, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.