Hepatitis A vaccine shortage strikes

The Department of Health and Ageing in Australia has reported that a global shortage of hepatitis A vaccines has pharmaceutical companies working to address the shortage, with priority being given to travelers.

Those traveling overseas have recently not been able to get all of the vaccinations they need as a result of this shortage, the Australian Broadcasting Company reports. Lisa Maguire, a GlaxoSmithKline representative, said that it was difficult to determine why there has been a larger than usual uptake of the vaccine.

“It's really hard to know why there can be peaks and troughs, but we can certainly make an assumption there's been some increased travel and in turn there'll be extra need for this vaccine," Maguire said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Company. "And what happens is there are a number of companies that supply the hepatitis A vaccine to the market. And if there's a supply issue with any company, that will cause a shortage."

Hepatitis A is an acute liver disease that can be caused by the hepatitis A virus. The disease lasts from a few weeks to several months and does not cause chronic infection. The disease is transmitted from ingestion of fecal matter, close person-to-person contact or the ingestion of contaminated food or drinks.