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Force stops hepatitis B vaccination programme due to global shortage

  • Posted On 8 Jun 2018

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    Federation News

    Force stops Hepatitis B vaccination programme due to global shortage

    • Global Shortage of Hepatitis B is affecting UK supplies
    • In response WMP has suspended Hepatitis B vaccination programme
    • Guidance issued for colleagues who are at risk of exposure

    WMP has suspended its Hepatitis B vaccination programme due to a global shortage across the UK.

    Despite the levels depleting, WMP has been able to secure a supply over the last 12 months. However, with no guarantee of when additional supplies will be delivered Occupational Health will now maintain a stock for emergency for colleagues affected by sharps or needle stick injuries.

    “The force is one of many organisations undertaking risk assessments for their staff due to the international vaccine shortage, which has been caused by problems in the manufacturing process,” said Marian Gardner, Health, Wellbeing and Case Management.

    “Public Health England, working with NHS England, the Department of Health and the manufacturers, have put in place a series of measures so that the NHS and other providers can use the available vaccine for those at highest immediate risk.”

    Hepatitis B is a virus which is present in the blood of infected people, and in some other body fluids which may be contaminated with tiny amounts of blood. The infection is spread by blood to blood contact i.e. when the virus gets into the blood stream through a cut, scratch or via a contaminated needle stick injury.

    Contaminated spit can cause infection if this fluid enters the body through the mouth or eyes.

    Regardless of whether you have been vaccinated anyone potentially exposed to the virus should follow the below guidance immediately.

    1) Encourage puncture wound to bleed but do not suck the wound
    2) Rinse thoroughly with running water without scrubbing
    3) Cover with sterile dressing
    4) Irrigate all splashes to the eye, mouth and mucous membranes with large amounts of saline or tap water
    5) Wash all splashes to the skin with soap and water
    6) Report incident to your supervisor
    7) Gather as much information about the source: known Hepatitis B, C, HIV positive? I.V Drug use? And inform A&E staff.
    8) If possible - arrange BBV testing of source patient through health care practitioner (forensic nurse/doctor) with the source’s consent.
    9) Go to nearest A&E department immediately.
    10) The police officer/police staff will be assessed and decision made for either a clinical HIGH RISK or clinical LOW RISK treatment or follow up. This is a NHS procedure and would be explained in more detail by the hospital.
    11) Bloods will be taken for storage
    12) If deemed high risk they may need [or be prescribed] Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) which needs to be administered within 48 hours of injury. You will require a 28 day supply so a prescription from your GP needs to be obtained as soon as possible as A&E will usually only provide a 5 day supply.
    13) Tetanus vaccine may be required.
    14) Antibiotic treatment may be required.
    15) Inform Occupational Health Department after A&E attendance for Hepatitis B assessment and bloods - depending on outcome

    Who to contact

    Contact occupational health administration team for follow up appointments or advice over the phone - Contact numbers: 802—3038 /3030 / 3031 / 3033 / 3029 / 3037 / 3026 between the hours of 0800-15.30 Monday-Friday. 

    Further Information and Guidance

    Further information on Hepatitis B is available at

    Guidance on how to reduce your risk of catching Hepatitis B is available here.

    “It is a very difficult situation for us to be in as a police force, as we always routinely offer our officers vaccination against Hepatitis B as they go through their training, before they are sent out to perform their operational duties,” 

    “Unfortunately, matters beyond our control mean that we are unable to do this for our current cohorts and so there is a small element of risk, which we are working hard to try and mitigate against by offering advice, support and a plan for immediate vaccination as soon as our supplies are replenished.” said Marian.

    Rich Cooke, Chair of West Midlands Police Federation adds “We are continuing to consult with the Force and our view is that if possible all frontline officers at risk of exposure should continue to be prioritised for vaccination as per guidelines from Public Health England. We will update members in due course.” 

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