Children should be vaccinated against hepatitis to prevent the spread of medicine-resistant strains of the disease, according to a report published by The Association of The British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).
Strains of hepatitis B are becoming increasingly resistant to treatment, according to the report, Target Hepatitis, which states that the disease can be prevented through the widespread use of vaccines. Currently no mass vaccination programmes exist in the UK.
"A programme needs to be put into place to ensure that all British children are inoculated against hepatitis B," said ABPI Medical Director Dr Richard Tiner. "It is a matter of public health. Much of the rest of Europe operates mass childhood vaccination programmes; it is time that the UK followed suit.
"Hepatitis B is becoming increasingly resistant to antiviral medicines. Once a patient is infected, the disease is difficult to control. We need to focus on the importance of prevention."
According to Target Hepatitis, hepatitis B - a disease transmitted through bodily fluids - will rapidly become resistant to treatment as mutant forms emerge. In 20% of cases, patients with the condition will find that the disease has mutated within the first year of treatment to the extent that it no longer responds to medicines. Within the first five years of treatment, the number of people who become immune to antiviral medicines rises to 70 per cent.
"The UK-based pharmaceutical industry is currently developing a range of new medicines aimed at overcoming antiviral resistance, which will improve the lives of the thousands of patients who are diagnosed with the disease each year," said Dr Tiner.
Do you agree that a mass vaccination programme against hepatitis B needs to be put into place? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"Yes, hep b is steadily on the increase and with widespread global travel nowadays it must be considered for all UK babies." - Sarah Henton
"Absolutely yes! Such an effective vaccine should included in the child immunisation programme now! Our increasingly adventurous and wide travelling population need to be adequately protected at home and abroad" – Yodah Galloway, King's Lynn
"Yes why is it other countries have been including this in basic imms programmes for many years? Catch up UK!" – Tracy Beckham, Twyford Berks
"Yes why is England so late in undertaking this as part of childhood vaccination? It is also becoming a big problem within travel health clinics." - Mary Swinney, South Tyneside
"Yes as soon as possible." - Diana Parker, Derby
"It is about time we come in line with the rest of the world! The world is small and with people emigrating and travelling to and from this country, why are we so reluctant to protect our own population? In other countries there is a requirement to have the jab if you choose to emigrate there, so why dont we?" - Patricia Randall, East Sussex
"I agree that everybody who is at risk should be vaccinated. The USA and several other countries offer immunisation to all children. As more and more people are going abroad to remote countries and many students in their gap year go backpacking it makes common sense for them to have been immunised as a child. The plus side of childhood immunisation is that the child usually has a better response rate than an adult." - Elaine, Rowe, Garstang
"Yes!" - Lucia
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