Objectives.: In 1999 Israel became the first country to introduce immunization against hepatitis A to its national childhood vaccination program. The study objectives were to assess the uptake of hepatitis A vaccine following the new policy and to examine the incidence of hepatitis A and the number of prevented cases. Methods.: Data on incidence of hepatitis A and vaccination rates were obtained from a large health maintenance organization in Israel covering 1.6 million members. We identified all members that were diagnosed by a primary care physician as suffering from hepatitis A, had a positive hepatitis A virus-IgM test result, or were hospitalized due to hepatitis A between 1998 and 2004. Results.: The results indicate that 5 years following its inclusion in the national childhood immunization program, vaccination coverage levels with at least one dose of hepatitis A vaccine for children aged under 5 years and 5-14 years were 87% and 51%, respectively. During this period the annual incidence rates declined by 88% from 142.4 to 17.3 per 100,000. The most significant reduction in morbidity was observed among children. Conclusions.: In endemic areas, vaccination of infants and children against hepatitis A may be efficient to greatly reduce the total burden of the disease.
- Hepatitis A