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Sweden must vaccinate all infants against dangerous virus

Published torsdag 3 november 2011 kl 14.33
Calls for nationwide childhood vaccine against Hepatitis B
(3:33 min)

Sweden is one of the few countries in Europe which has no nationwide infant vaccination programme against Hepatitis B.

Writing in today's Dagens Nyheter newspaper, a number of doctors working in the field of infectious diseases say it's time that Sweden vaccinated all infants against Hepatitis B and not just infants of foreign born parents and adults in high risk groups.

If a child contracts the viral infection hepatitis b, then in most instances, the condition becomes chronic and can cause liver damage while if an adult contracts it through intimate sexual contact or from blood, then there's only a five percent risk of it becoming chronic. Johan Struwe, a doctor in infectious diseases in Stockholm, says that it is time that Sweden followed the World Health Organisation's recommendations to vaccinate children, recommendations which are followed in 160 countries around the world.

"It's a vaccine that has been widely used and has shown to be safe and has a good and long lasting effect to protect children during their childhood and it can also be combined with a child's other vaccines in a single shot so there is no extra trauma fo a child."

Sweden is a country with a low risk of catching hepatitis b and the National Board of Health and Welfare has concentrated on vaccinating those in high risk groups such as IV drug users.

However, it now recognizes that those in high risk groups are difficult to reach and the cost of a national child vaccination programme is no longer too expensive.

The Board is currently reviewing the situation with a view to a change in policy.   

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