Status:
Resolved
Health advisory:
140003
Date Issued:
27 Mar 2014
Issued by:
Dr Rosemary Lester, Chief Health Officer, Victoria
Issued to:
Health professionals, including those working in sexual health

Key messages

  • Eligibility for a free Hepatitis B vaccine course in Victoria has expanded to include more at-risk groups.
  • People eligible to receive the free vaccine course now include:
    • household contacts and sexual partners of people living with Hepatitis B
    • people who inject drugs or are on opioid substitution therapy
    • people living with Hepatitis C (hepatitis C antibody positive)
    • men who have sex with men
    • people living with HIV
    • prisoners and remandees*
  • Use the Hepatitis B vaccine - eligible at risk people order form to access free vaccine for these groups  or call 1300 882 008 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 12md and 2pm to 3pm).

*This includes people no longer in a custodial setting who commenced but did not complete a free vaccine course while in custody

What is the issue?

Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable illness which, if left untreated, can lead to advanced liver disease, cirrhosis and fatal liver cancer. Hepatitis B is one of the leading causes of liver cancer in Australia, which is now the fastest growing cause of cancer death in the country. It is not possible to be a ‘healthy carrier’ of hepatitis B.

Vaccination against hepatitis B usually involves a three-dose course. Vaccination for children in Australia is provided free under the National Immunisation Scheme. In Victoria, the vaccine course is also provided free to certain at-risk populations. Since January 2014, the at-risk groups eligible for free Hepatitis B vaccination has expanded.

What is the action required?

Patients eligible for the free vaccine course should be advised of their increased risk and have serological testing for HBsAg, anti-HBs and anti-HBc. Patients found to be susceptible to hepatitis B should be given a free vaccine course. Post-vaccination serological testing is recommended 4 to 8 weeks after completion of the vaccine course in certain groups - see the Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th edition.

Get the free vaccine by using the online vaccine order forms.

Promote the free vaccine course by downloading and display the poster outlining eligibility.

Following confirmation of a Hepatitis B diagnosis notify the Department of Health using online notification forms or by calling 1300 651 160. Send completed notification forms via Fax 1300 651 170 (local call) or Post to Reply Paid 65937 Melbourne VIC 8060.

For further information see Notifying cases of infectious diseases within Victoria - What to notify.

Contacts

Immunisation Section: Telephone - 1300 882 008 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 12md and 2pm to 3pm)

Email: immunisation@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Unit: Telephone: 1300 651 160 Fax: (61 3) 9096 9174

Email: infectious.diseases@dhhs.vic.gov.au