Hepatitis A outbreaks: the effect of a mass vaccination programme


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Abstract

Summary.A Hepatitis A vaccination programme of people belonging to risk groups begun in Catalonia in 1995 and a universal vaccination programme of pre-adolescents 12 years of age with the hepatitis A + B vaccine was added in 1998. The aim of the study was to investigate the characteristics of hepatitis A outbreaks occurring in Catalonia between 1991 and 2007 to determine the associated risk factors and optimize the use of vaccination. Incidence rates of outbreaks, cases and hospitalizations associated with outbreaks and the rate ratios (RR) of person-to-person transmission outbreaks between the periods before and after mass vaccination and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated. A rate of 2.45 outbreaks per million persons per year was found. The rate of cases affected in these outbreaks was 1.28 per 105 persons per year and the rate of hospitalizations was 0.45 per million persons per year. In person-to-person outbreaks, the highest incidence rate (5.26 and 6.33 per million persons per year) of outbreaks according to the age of the index case was in the 5 to 14 year age group in both periods (RR:0.83; 95% CI:0.48-1.43). A significant increase was observed in the 25 to 44 year age group (RR: 0.35; 95% CI 0.14-0.77). Hepatitis A vaccination has made an important impact on burden and characteristics of outbreaks and could provide greater benefits to the community if the vaccine was administrated to children during their first years of life.

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