July 31, 2013
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Rate of HBV vaccination at birth in Laos needs more improvement

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The median hepatitis B vaccine coverage at facility-based births was 74% in Laos, where hepatitis B virus is highly endemic, according to data published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

From December 2011 to February 2012, the Laos Ministry of Health and WHO staff members evaluated coverage at 37 health facilities. At 18 of the facilities, the HBV vaccine was not in stock. Among the 17 facilities that assisted with home births, seven included the vaccination in the services. Twenty-three facilities conducted postnatal visits, and only 15 of these provided the vaccine in the visit.

“Administration of the hepatitis B vaccine birth dose followed by timely completion of the hepatitis B vaccine series is 70% to 95% effective in preventing mother-to-child HBV transmission,” the researchers wrote. “[However] the country continues to have the lowest coverage in the region, largely because only 37% of women in Laos give birth with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant.”

The study was conducted in five of the 24 provinces of Laos and included provincial or central hospitals, as well as two district hospitals and four health centers. Staff members at each facility participated in an in-person interview, answering questions about the HBV vaccine birth dose procedures.

Among the 31 facilities that provided birthing services onsite, all reported providing the vaccine to newborns. Four additional facilities that did not provide onsite birthing services also reported providing newborns with the vaccine.

“Laos has shown a strong commitment toward the Western Pacific Region goal of reducing chronic HBV infection prevalence in children aged 5 years and younger to less than 1%,” the researchers wrote. “Such a reduction in HBV prevalence will require prevention of both perinatal and early childhood infections.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.