Worldwide shortage of Hepatitis A and B Vaccinations: I’m travelling soon, what should I do?

Hepatitis A/B vaccines are usually recommended to people travelling to areas of the world where there is poor hygiene and sanitation.

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Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline announced it has been experiencing a reduced supply of the vaccines since June 2017 due to a shortage of Hepatitis A and B antigens.

The vaccines are usually recommended to people travelling to areas of the world where there is poor hygiene and sanitation.

In the UK, limited supplies are available at a small number of travel clinics, with the majority of vaccinations reserved for those at the highest risk.

What are Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis A is a virus caused by an infection of the liver and is the result of either ingesting contaminated water and food, or being passed from person to person where personal hygiene has been poor. It occurs worldwide although the majority of cases happen in countries with poor sanitation.

Hepatitis B - prevalence 2005
(c) CDC Travelers’ Health: Yellow Book

Hepatitis B is a more serious and can result in progressive liver disease. It is usually spread through contaminated blood. It can occur worldwide but there is a greater risk in Africa, India, China, South and Central America and Southeast Asia.

How does the shortage of Hepatitis A and B Vaccinations affect me?

Traditionally, you could book an appointment at your GP and get the vaccination for free on the NHS. Alternatively you could get your vaccine at a travel clinic where a fee is likely to be payable.

However due to the global shortage, it is very unlikely you will be able to book an appointment for either vaccine at your GP or at some travel clinics.

Read also ⇒ How to prevent malaria while travelling

Where should I go to get my vaccine?

The best advice is to ring around the travel clinics in your local area and find out who currently stocks Hepatitis A and B vaccines but expect to pay dearly.

I checked around the London area and was unable to book a Hepatitis A vaccination at my GP (for free), at Superdrug or at The London Travel Clinic (where the vaccination costs £50). The London Travel Clinic directed me to the Fleet Street Clinic and they did have a supply of Hepatitis A vaccines. However the charge was £100, which seemed very expensive.

A spokesman for Boots told me “Some stores do have a limited supply of both vaccines, however you will need to phone around specific stores to find out what they have.”

Incidentally, Boots do provide a Hep A/Hep B combined vaccine.

Nowhere near me supplies the vaccine/I don’t want to pay that much – what should I do?

Remember your health is very important and not worth putting at risk. Seek advice from your doctor, and check the NHS Fit For Travel website for tips on keeping yourself healthy and safe.


Are you worried about travelling without getting vaccinated? Leave a comment