ALL newborns will be given a hepatitis B jab after health watchdog says 96% of cases are among immigrants
- Babies born from August 1 will receive doses of ‘Hexa’ jab at 4, 8 and 16 weeks
- Comes after health watchdog warns immigration in UK is causing hepatitis spike
- Historically blood-borne virus in UK has been low but now cases are on the rise
All babies are to be vaccinated against a deadly cancer-causing virus which experts fear is becoming increasingly common due to immigration.
They will be inoculated against hepatitis B, which can trigger liver cancer, in a new jab that will also protect against five other diseases.
Every baby born from August 1 will receive doses of the ‘Hexa’ jab at four, eight and 16 weeks.
All babies are to be vaccinated against a deadly cancer-causing virus which experts fear is becoming increasingly common due to immigration
Historically, infection rates of the blood-borne virus have been so low in Britain that it has not been a major issue. But there is now serious concern that the number of cases is rising, due largely to immigration from developing countries.
In some sub-Saharan African countries, one in seven is a carrier. East Asia and parts of Eastern Europe are also hotspots.
Public Health England (PHE) said the decision to inoculate all babies, rather than just those deemed at high risk, was taken because a ‘cost-effective combination vaccine’ was now available. The jab also protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).
Evidence suggests high rates of immigration are behind rising cases of chronic infection, where the virus lies largely dormant – but incurable – in the body.
In some sub-Saharan African countries, one in seven is a carrier. East Asia and parts of Eastern Europe are also hotspots
In 2012, PHE reported that 19 out of every 20 antenatal women testing positive for hepatitis B in London were born abroad. Of those, nearly half were born in Africa.
It concluded: ‘Long-term infections in migrants are estimated to account for around 96 per cent of all new long-term hepatitis B infections in the UK.’
More than 500,000 people moved to Britain last year, half of whom came from outside the EU. A quarter of mothers giving birth on the NHS are now foreign-born.
Fresh data from PHE indicates that the number of pregnant women infected with the virus is increasing fast. A previous version of its ‘green book’ for doctors, from 2013, stated that about one in 700 was hep B- positive.
But a new version, published three days ago, shows the national figure is now one in 250. Rates are higher than one in 100 in some inner- city areas. None of these facts is cited in PHE’s rationale for vaccinating all babies.
Paul Desmond, of the Hep B Positive Trust, claimed political correctness had allowed an ‘unseen epidemic’ to develop. He said: ‘We’ve invited the world – and forgotten its medicine.’
THE VIRUS THAT’S 100 TIMES MORE INFECTIOUS THAN HIV
Hepatitis B is a virus that attacks the liver, potentially leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Transmission is via blood or other bodily fluids. That means it can be spread by sex or infected needles – but also by something as innocuous as sharing a toothbrush.
Hepatitis B is a virus that attacks the liver, potentially leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer
It is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Hep B can survive outside the body for at least a week, so objects contaminated with dried blood pose a risk. Worldwide, 250 million people are infected with hep B, and it kills 900,000 a year. Worst affected countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific.
Treatment costs for those with long-term infection can exceed £10,000 a year.