Viral hepatitis remains a major contributor to the global disease burden. Mass immunisation strategies against hepatitis B have been adopted by more than 90 developing and industrialised countries. Countries with low hepatitis A endemicity are experiencing cyclical outbreaks and an epidemiological shift, with larger numbers of individuals at risk of infection at an older age, resulting in increased morbidity. The high cost of outbreaks in these countries has made immunisation strategies cost-effective. The development of a vaccine against hepatitis A and a combined vaccine against hepatitis A and hepatitis B offers potentially exciting opportunities for a preventative approach in areas of both low and high endemicity. Existing mass immunisation programmes against hepatitis B will facilitate the adoption of joint strategies illustrated by the examples of Puglia (Italy) and Catalonia (Spain). (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.
- Combined hepatitis vaccination
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B