European survey of hepatitis B vaccination policies for healthcare workers
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
European journal of public health. - Oxford
University of Antwerp
Background: The risk of transmission of hepatitis B virus (HBV) to healthcare workers (HCWs) is well known. Under current European Union (EU) legislation, all employers should perform a risk assessment to identify those exposed to HBV and offer vaccination. Immunization should happen early after the start of their career to avoid infection and development of carrier status. Methods: Cross-sectional survey of country representatives, to find out how policies are put into practice in European countries. Results: Answers were received from 17 countries, representing 89% of the population and 90% of HCWs in the EU-25. HBV vaccination was mandatory for medical, and nursing and other paramedical staff in five countries, and recommended in all other countries. It was mandatory for medical students and student nurses in five countries and recommended in nine other. Pre-vaccination serotesting was done in six countries. The vaccination schedule most often used was 0, 1, 6 months. Combined vaccine (hepatitis A virus /HBV) was used in 10 countries. Post-vaccination serotesting was done in 14 countries. Data on HBV vaccination coverage were available in 11 countries and published in five of them. Coverage was 8593%. Conclusion: These results show the variation as to how EU legislation is translated into practice in European countries. More consultation between key actors at EU level could help to optimize the way this matter is dealt with. A battery of measures and interventionsincluding introduction of immunization programmes against HBV infection and increasing immunization coverage in HCWscan contribute to further reducing HBV transmission to HCWs.