In June 2016, the Ministry of Health and Care Services announced that all children in Norway will be offered the hepatitis B vaccine. All children born after 1st November 2016 will be offered Hexyon, a 6-in-1 combination vaccine.
Until now, all infants have been offered a combination vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type B. This five-component vaccine is given at 3, 5 and 12 months of age. The hepatitis B component will now be included in the combination vaccine. No extra injections or clinic visits are required.
Used in most countries
The introduction of the hepatitis B vaccine in the immunisation programme follows advice from an expert group appointed by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Their report with recommendations was published in 2008. To date, only children in special risk groups for hepatitis B infection have been offered this vaccine.
Most countries have already included the hepatitis B vaccine in their immunisation programmes. The Hexyon vaccine is a 6-in-1 vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B and hepatitis B.
The vaccine is supplied as a pre-filled syringe that is ready for use. It is approved by the Norwegian Medicines Agency and has been on the market since 2012. The single component hepatitis B vaccine has been widely used globally, and in Norway since 1983.
The safety and efficacy of the vaccine for use in infants was evaluated in clinical trials before being marketed in 2012. Since then, 12.8 million doses have been distributed worldwide.
Children born after 1st November 2016
Due to the global lack of the five-component vaccine currently in use, the six-component combination vaccine will be introduced earlier than originally planned. Children born after 1st November 2016 will be offered the 6-in-1 vaccine. Since the first dose is given at 3 months of age, vaccination will begin in February 2017.
The updated brochure about the immunisation programme will be available in January.