US vaccine advisers voted to recommend routine vaccination against hepatitis B for adult diabetics under the age of 60 and said those older than 60 may get the vaccine as well.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, voted 12-2 to include diabetics in the high-risk group of adults that should get vaccinated.
This is the first time the panel made a recommendation for people with diabetes, after studies showed those under the age of 60 were more than twice as likely to acquire the hepatitis B virus than those without diabetes. There was no significant increase in the risk of hepatitis B infection among diabetics over the age of 60.
The CDC has recommended routine vaccination of children and adolescents since 1991. The recommendation also applies to unvaccinated adults at high risk, such as people with chronic liver or kidney disease, men who have sex with men, people with more than one sex partner or those whose jobs expose them to human blood.
Two hepatitis B vaccines are available in the United States: Engerix-B by GlaxoSmithKline and Recombivax by Merck & Co's. Dynavax Technologies Corp has another hepatitis B vaccine for adults, Heplisav, in a clinical trial.
(Reuters Health, October 2011)