Indian district hit with hepatitis B vaccine shortage

A shortage of the hepatitis B vaccine in Kozhikode District, India, has affected the area's universal vaccination program.

The cause of the shortage has been traced back to the Union Health Ministry, which has only an irregular supply of the vaccine. Government hospitals and rural areas have had their vaccination programs interrupted, according to the Times of India.

The district's medical office recorded approximately 40 cases of hepatitis B in all of 2012. There have been 30 cases in the district since the beginning of 2013.

District medical officer Dr. P K Mohanan confirmed that the Union Health Ministry had stopped supplying the vaccine.

"The vaccine is not available at the four government hospitals in the district," Mohanan said, the Times of India reports. "Health department had sought the help of Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd., which was entrusted by the department to supply the vaccines. We hope to get the stock of vaccines within a month."

Other organizations in Kozhikode, including the Hemophilia Society, have agreed to distribute 50,000 doses of the vaccine to children with blood-related disorders such as leukemia and thalassemia.

"The society will distribute free doses as shortage of vaccine has derailed the government's universal immunization program," Hemophilia Society President, Dr. P M Kutty said, the Times of India reports.