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A study explains the alarmingly low uptake of hepatitis B vaccine in India health news

Despite the availability of an effective vaccine against hepatitis B virus for more than 30 years, its uptake in India remains low due to poor knowledge and lack of awareness, according to a study by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major global health problem, affecting approximately 296 million people worldwide and causing approximately 887,000 deaths annually due to complications such as end-stage liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The team surveyed 3,500 participants, excluding healthcare workers and people under the age of 18.

Their findings, published on the online platform Curious, showed that only 25 percent of people had adequate knowledge about the virus, such as its mode of transmission, effects on the liver and the critical importance of vaccination.

Furthermore, only 22.7 percent of people were found to have completed the full hepatitis B vaccination course.

“These low vaccination rates are alarming, especially considering the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing the spread of the virus and the development of advanced liver disease called cirrhosis and liver cancer,” lead investigator Dr. Anil Arora, Institute of Liver, Gastroenterology and Pancreatico-Biliary Sciences, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, in a statement on Friday.

The study also highlighted disparities in vaccination uptake by gender, education level and the urban-rural divide.

Dr. Anil emphasized the need for targeted public health interventions to improve awareness and vaccination coverage.

“Educational campaigns should focus on the general population, especially women, older people, those with lower education levels, and rural residents, who have demonstrated lower knowledge scores and vaccination rates among study participants.

“Furthermore, efforts should be made to raise awareness about the importance of completing the full vaccination schedule for adequate effectiveness as it was not uncommon for people to vaccinate one or two doses and forget the last one,” the doctor said.

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