The risk of transmission of blood-borne pathogens, including hepatitis B virus (HBV) to healthcare workers (HCWs) is well known. Under current European Union (EU) legislation, all employers have to perform a risk assessment to identify workers exposed to HBV and offer them vaccination. Immunisation should be done as early as possible after the start of their career to avoid HBV infection and the development of an infectious carrier state In 2005 we performed a survey on HBV prevention in HCWs in the EU; in 2010, a new EU Directive (2010/32/EU), on sharp injuries, to be implemented in national legislation by 11 May 2013, made an update of the 2005 survey necessary.Methods
We performed an electronic survey of national representatives from the Occupational Medicine section of the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) in all countries, to find out how policies have been put into practice in the European countries.Results
Answers were received from 21 countries, representing 78% of the population in the EU-28. HBV vaccination was mandatory for medical and nursing staff in 10 countries, mandatory for other paramedical staff, medical and nursing students in nine countries, for paramedical students in eight countries, for cleaning staff in 6 countries, for technical staff in 5 countries. It was recommended in all other participating countries. Serotesting before vaccination was done in eight countries. The vaccination schedule most often used was 0, 1, 6 months (18 countries). Serotesting after vaccination was done in 18 countries, boosters were recommended in 14 countries. A non-responder policy, including testing for carrier state, was present in 18 countries.Discussion
More consultation between key actors from countries at EU level could help to optimise the way this matter is dealt with in different countries in order to contribute to further reducing HBV transmission to HCWs.