Patient awareness of need for hepatitis a vaccination (prophylaxis) before international travel.J Travel Med. 2015 May-Jun; 22(3):174-8.JT
Although hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection is preventable through vaccination, cases associated with international travel continue to occur. The purpose of this study was to examine the frequency of international travel and countries visited among persons infected with HAV and assess reasons why travelers had not received hepatitis A vaccine before traveling.
Using data from sentinel surveillance for HAV infection in seven US counties during 1996 to 2006, we examined the role of international travel in hepatitis A incidence and the reasons for patients not being vaccinated.
Of 2,002 hepatitis A patients for whom travel history was available, 300 (15%) reported traveling outside of the United States. Compared to non-travelers, travelers were more likely to be female [odds ratio (OR) = 1.74 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.35, 2.24)], aged 0 to 17 years [OR = 3.30 (1.83, 5.94)], Hispanic [OR = 3.69 (2.81, 4.86)], Asian [OR = 2.00 (1.06, 3.77)], and were less likely to be black non-Hispanic [OR = 0.30 (0.11, 0.82)]. The majority, 189 (61.6%), had traveled to Mexico. The most common reason for not getting pre-travel vaccination was "Didn't know I could [or should] get shots" [100/154 (65%)].
Low awareness of HAV vaccination was the predominant reason for not being protected before travel. Different modes of traveler education could improve prevention of hepatitis A. To highlight the risk of infection before traveling to endemic countries including Mexico, travel and consulate websites could list reminders of vaccine recommendations.