Get Vaccinated, Stop the Spread of Hep B

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes

(RxWiki News) There are a great deal of complications associated with diabetes. In order to prevent these complications, patients have to take special care of themselves, whether that means eating healthier or getting vaccinated.

The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recently issued guidelines recommending that all adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes get vaccinated for the hepatitis B virus. Getting vaccinated may prevent cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death.

"Ask your doctor about getting vaccinated for hepatitis B."

Over the last 15 years, there have been a number of hepatitis B outbreaks in long-term-care facilities like nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Because many of these outbreaks involved diabetes patients, the Hepatitis Vaccines Work Group of the ACIP wanted to assess the risk of hepatitis B infection in people with diabetes.

Through a study of 865 cases of hepatitis B infection, the group found that people with diabetes have a greater risk of hepatitis B infection than people without diabetes.

According to the ACIP, about 700,000 to 1.4 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis B virus. Chronic hepatitis B infections can last for decades, making infected people long-term carriers who can pass the virus onto others.

In order to avoid outbreaks of the virus, it is important that those at high risk of infection get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B virus can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver and poor liver function) and liver cancer. People with diabetes are already at risk of liver disease - specifically, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The ACIP researchers found that diabetic patients between the ages of 23 and 59 are more than twice as likely to develop acute hepatitis B than people without diabetes.

Diabetes patients 60 years of age and older are 1.5 times more likely to develop hepatitis B infection.

In light of these findings, the ACIP says that adults should get vaccinated as soon as possible after being diagnosed with diabetes. For diabetes patients older than 59, the ACIP recommends talking with a doctor before getting the hepatitis B vaccine.

The ACIP findings and recommendations appear in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Review Date: 
December 22, 2011