Should hepatitis B vaccination be introduced into childhood immunisation programmes in northern Europe?

Lancet Infect Dis. 2007 Jun;7(6):410-9. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(07)70136-6.


Infection with hepatitis B causes between 500,000 and 1.2 million deaths per year worldwide, and is the leading cause of liver cancer. Over 12 years ago, WHO recommended that universal childhood hepatitis B vaccination be implemented globally. Despite this, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK have yet to implement such a policy and instead currently adopt an "at-risk" strategy. Although all eight countries are classed as having low endemicity, factors such as increased travel and integration of immigrant communities are increasing the number of at-risk individuals in these countries. Considering the difficulty in identifying all at-risk individuals, and the lack of effectiveness of at-risk vaccination on reducing the overall incidence of hepatitis B, we recommend that these countries reassess their hepatitis B prevention strategies. Universal vaccination against hepatitis B is the only way to eliminate the major public-health impact of this disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B / immunology
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mass Vaccination* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Mass Vaccination* / statistics & numerical data
  • National Health Programs*
  • Risk Assessment