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Hep B vaccinations should be given to diabetics: US advisers

U.S. vaccine advisers on Tuesday voted to recommend routine vaccination for Hepatitis B for adults with diabetes under the age of 60 and said people older than 60 “may” get the vaccine as well.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), voted 12-2 to include diabetics in the high-risk group of unvaccinated adults that should get vaccinated.

This is the first time the panel made a recommendation for people with diabetes, after studies showed those under the age of 60 were more than twice as likely to get infected with Hepatitis B than those without diabetes. Studies found no observed significant increase of Hepatitis B in diabetics over the age of 60.

Hepatitis B is a serious disease that could turn chronic and lead to liver damage or cancer. Although it cannot be cured, it can be prevented with a vaccine.

The CDC has recommended routine vaccination of children and adolescents since 1991. The recommendation also apply to unvaccinated adults at risk of getting infected, such as people with chronic liver or kidney disease, men who have sex with men, people with more than one sex partner or those whose jobs expose them to human blood.

Two Hepatitis B vaccines are available in the United States: Engerix-B by GlaxoSmithKline and Recombivax by Merck & Co.'s. Dynavax Technologies Corp.'s has another Hepatitis B vaccine for adults, Heplisav, in clinical trial.

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