November 16, 2011

Under Age 60, Have Diabetes, Get Hepatitis B Shot

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) stopped short of recommending hepatitis B vaccination for those over 60 because there is data showing that the vaccine is less likely to be effective in those who are frail and elderly.

They did have concern for many in nursing homes where proper procedures are not followed, and hepatitis B was accidentally spread by shared glucose monitors. I have some questions about whether they were talking about continuous glucose monitors or if they were talking about glucose meters. I suspect the later and more likely the lancer tool. I wonder why a nursing home would share something that is very likely to spread medical problems.

The ACIP did by a 12 to 2 vote strongly recommend that diabetes patients under the age of 60 that have not been fully vaccinated for hepatitis B have their vaccination completed. While not saying which elderly diabetes patients, they feel that many still need the vaccination over 60.

The hepatitis B vaccine is generally more effective in young adults. The ACIP advises that when people learn of their diabetes diagnosis, they should get the 3 or 4 dose series, which lasts a lifetime.

The hepatitis B virus infects the liver and for those that are not able to fight off the infection results in about 1.25 million Americans having a chronic hepatitis B infection. Hepatitis B kills 3 to 5 thousand people a year in the USA.

The ACIP is made up of independent experts who advise the CDC and FDA on vaccination policy. The committee's recommendations form the basis of the U.S. immunization schedules.”

If you have not had the series of hepatitis B shots and have diabetes, please get the shots as recommended by the ACIP. Read the press release here.

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