80 per cent health staff unvaccinated for Hepatitis B in Tamil Nadu
DPH says figure is based on utilisation of vaccine procured for health care workers and not on performance report
CHENNAI: The Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has instructed all deputy directors of health services to take the necessary steps to complete Hepatitis B vaccination for all healthcare workers. Pregnant women have been exempted from taking the vaccine.
In a circular, director of public health and preventive medicine Dr T S Selvavinayagam said only 20% of healthcare workers have been vaccinated to date against Hepatitis B. Selvavinayagam told TNIE that they arrived at the figure based on the utilisation of the vaccine, and not based on any performance report. The vaccines procured for the same are set to expire on March 31, 2024.
“We request healthcare workers to take vaccines as per the guidelines enclosed since they are at risk of contracting infection while working in the healthcare setting,” Selvavinayagam said. Healthcare workers include all paid and unpaid people who are at reasonable risk of exposure to infectious materials, including blood or body fluids, contaminated medical supplies and equipment, or contaminated environmental surfaces. Such workers are advised to take three doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine, the director said in the circular.
Healthcare workers were told to get vaccinated against Hepatitis B as per the minutes of the National Health Mission (NHM) meeting held on 7 September 2022, the circular said. According to doctors, getting vaccinated against Hepatitis B is necessary as they handle injections and needle sticks.
If healthcare workers do not have Hepatitis B vaccination records, they will be considered as not vaccinated. If a person receives one dose and misses subsequent doses, then the second dose should be given immediately and the third dose shall be given 2-5 months later. The third dose will be given immediately if the person misses the third dose on time, the DPH said.
Hepatitis is a serious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus. It spreads through contact with infected blood or other body fluids. Hepatitis B is the leading cause of jaundice, cirrhosis or liver cancer. It also spreads through unsafe injections and transfusions, or needle stick accidents with infected blood, according to the health department.