World Hepatitis Day 2022

Updated July 27, 2022

World Hepatitis Day, recognized annually on July 28th, is an opportunity to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis. In 2016, the World Health Assembly endorsed the elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health threat, including elimination of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B by 2030.

Date: July 28, 2022
Theme: Hepatitis Can’t Wait

Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of hepatitis B is the primary source of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Up to 90% of infants infected at birth will develop chronic HBV infection. Hepatitis B vaccines can’t wait – infants must be vaccinated within 24 hours of birth to prevent MTCT of the virus. Completing the hepatitis B vaccination series with at least 3 additional doses by 6 months of age offers lifelong protection against HBV infection.

In 2021, over half of all newborns worldwide were not protected by a universal hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth. By supporting the introduction of the hepatitis B birth dose and improving coverage of the full hepatitis B vaccination series, CDC works with partners and countries to reduce the burden of hepatitis B, improve health equity, and advance global health security.

Mother holds her infant who is receiving hepatitis B-containing vaccine by a healthcare worker.

A 3-month-old is held by his mother as he receives a pentavalent vaccine that contains hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and haemophilus influenzae type b. Nigeria, 2022.

Country Spotlight: Improving Hepatitis B Vaccination Coverage Rates in Nigeria
A group of women is educated by a healthcare worker. Nigeria, 2022

Hepatitis B vaccines have been available in Nigeria since 2004, yet Nigeria has the largest number of children living with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection worldwide. In 2021, only 52% of infants in Nigeria were given the recommended birth dose, and just 56% completed the additional recommended 3-dose series.

CDC, in collaboration with the Nigerian Primary Health Care Development Agency, the African Field Epidemiology Network, and the Hepatitis B Foundation, is working with 40 healthcare facilities in Nigeria to train healthcare workers and community volunteers, with the goal of improving coverage of the hepatitis B birth dose (HepB-BD) and the additional 3-dose series (HepB3).

CDC and partners held trainings on the:

  • burden of hepatitis B in Nigeria
  • importance of hepatitis B vaccines, especially that the HepB-BD must be given within 24 hours of birth
  • recording of vaccine doses in registries
  • use of educational materials to raise awareness on the importance of hepatitis B vaccinations with expectant mothers

During October 2021 to July 2022, CDC and partners visited participating clinics to assess implementation of timely hepatitis B birth dose vaccination and provide technical support. An evaluation is pending to determine whether this intervention improved coverage rates of timely HepB-BD and HepB3. Evaluation results will inform Nigeria’s vaccination program with country specific best practices to help protect future generations of Nigerian children.

About Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It affects approximately 296 million people globally and is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The World Health Organization recommends that all newborns receive a hepatitis B birth dose (HepB-BD) vaccine within 24 hours of birth – but by the end of 2021 only 111 of 194 countries provided a HepB-BD to all newborns. In Africa, where the burden of hepatitis B is highest, 33 of 47 countries have no HepB-BD. In 2021, only 17% of children in Africa were given a birth dose.

Page last reviewed: July 25, 2022
Content source: Global Immunization