The selective vaccination programme against hepatitis B virus (HBV) was introduced in the Netherlands in 2002 targeting high-risk groups, including men who have sex with men (MSM). Despite the high average age of vaccination in MSM, the number of notifications of acute HBV recently declined. We investigate whether this can be attributed to the selective vaccination programme. We examine how vaccination strategies could be improved and the impact of universal infant vaccination introduced in 2011.
We use a mathematical model for HBV transmission among MSM. The incidence of HBV was calculated from the model and from notification data of acute HBV.
A decline was observed in the incidence of HBV since 2006, as calculated from the model; this decline was smaller than that observed in data if all MSM were equally likely to be vaccinated. Assuming that high-risk MSM were more likely to be vaccinated than low-risk MSM resulted in a steeper decline in modelled incidence and better agreement with observed incidence. Vaccinating MSM at a younger age or doubling the vaccination rate would increase the impact of selective vaccination, but is less effective than vaccinating high-risk MSM.
Selective HBV vaccination of MSM in the Netherlands has had a substantial impact in reducing HBV incidence. The reduction suggests that vaccination rates among high-risk MSM were higher than those among low-risk MSM. Countries that have not yet reached 35-year cohorts with universal childhood vaccination should actively implement or continue selective high-risk MSM vaccination.
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