Tanzania: Ministry Lays Guidelines On Hepatitis B Vaccine

THE Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children has announced that Hepatitis B vaccine is only for high-risk groups and children under the age of 18 years who now get vaccinated at their infancy stage.

The ministry said that the Hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine recommended for all infants at birth and for children up to 18 years.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended for adults living with diabetes and those at high risk of infection due to their jobs, lifestyle, or country of birth.

Responding to a question posed by Taska Mbogo (Special Seats-CCM), the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Faustine Ndugulile said the government has been vaccinating all children, saying that the vaccine should be administered to adults but at a shared cost.

Ms Mbogo had observed that Hepatitis B was among deadly diseases which are fatal to unvaccinated persons, but the government had not emphasized that all people should be administered with the vaccine.

She wanted to know whether the government had a plan in line to help all nationals who have not been vaccinated to receive the key protection.

Dr Ndugulile said since 2002, the government has been administering the pentavalent vaccine to infants to protect them from tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis and DPT-HepB-Hib.

"This means all the children who were born since 2002 have been protected," he emphasized.

He went on to explain that for other nationals who were born before 2002 and simply couldn't be vaccinated, the government had thus identified key groups that will receive hepatitis B vaccine through shared cost.

He named the groups as high-risk groups whose jobs are related with coming into contact with affected people.

It includes health officers, laboratory attendants, mortuary attendants and field doctors.

Other groups include blood donors, drug users, prisoners, patient caretakers, people with multiple partners and people with HIV, TB infection, diabetes among other related diseases.

"We also recommend long-distance truck drivers and their supporting crew should also get vaccinated," he said.

The deputy minister said the vaccination process is currently administered at all regional hospitals and is expected to be available at all district hospitals.

"Like I said, this vaccine is not a necessity to all people, but those in need can follow the right procedure to get the vaccine," he insisted.

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