Today, Pablo Kuri, Mexico’s Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, confirmed the reception of 1 million doses of Hepatitis B vaccine, putting a stop to a shortage that left over 1.5 million children at risk of a disease responsible for cirrhosis, liver damage and liver cancer. Kuri said that 4 million more doses will arrive in the country by late May or early June.
Mexican children typically receive three doses of the vaccine, the first within hours of birth, followed by a second dose at two months of age and a third when they turn six months old. However, last year’s supply was rejected by COFEPRIS as it did not meet the necessary quality standards. This caused many children to miss their second or third doses. Furthermore, just one month ago doctors feared the availability of enough doses for newborns.
Hepatitis B currently affects 257 million people across the globe and kills almost 900,000 per year. This virus is transmitted by exposure to blood and other bodily fluids, meaning in most cases it is transmitted from mother to child during birth or during the first five years of age with exposure to infected blood. While adults face a less-than-5-percent chance of developing a chronic infection after developing Hepatitis B, between 80 and 90 percent of children infected before they turn one year old develop chronic infection, which places them at significant risk of liver failure or cancer.
The vaccines received today are being analyzed before their distribution. At this point 19 states have been hit by the shortage but Kuri informed that the vaccine’s distribution will be back to normal by June.