We have two vaccines to protect folks against viral hepatitis.
The first, against hepatitis B, was developed in 1981, but was replaced by an improved vaccine in 1989. It wasn’t added to the immunization schedule until 1991 though. Next came the hepatitis A vaccine in 1996.
Are More People Dying of Viral Hepatitis?
Although we don’t often think of them that way, these types of hepatitis can cause life threatening infections. Hepatitis B can even cause cancer!
So why would more people be dying of hepatitis A and B after we developed vaccines to help prevent them, a new idea being pushed by anti-vaccine folks?
For example, there were 31,582 cases of hepatitis A and 142 deaths in 1995, just before the vaccine was approved. In 2016, there were just over 2,000 cases and 70 deaths.
What about hepatitis B?
The record high for yearly new cases was in 1985. In 2016, we are near record lows, with 3,218 new cases and 1,698 deaths.
Why are people still dying of hepatitis B?
Because even though far fewer people are getting new infections, there are still an estimated 850,000 to 2.2 million adults in the United States who already have chronic hepatitis B infections.
“…rates of acute Hepatitis B in the United States have declined by approximately 82% since 1991.”
Hepatitis B FAQs for the Public
So how can they say that hepatitis deaths are skyrocketing?
Remember, there are multiple types of hepatitis, including A, B, C, D, and E. These are all caused by different viruses, even though they all cause hepatitis.
And since 2006, the incidence of hepatitis C has been climbing sharply. Tragically, so have the number of deaths. In 2016, there were 18,153 deaths from hepatitis C, which is not yet vaccine-preventable.
Hepatitis deaths are increasing.
All strains? Nope. Just the non-vaccine preventable strains. Deaths from hepatitis A and hepatitis B have greatly decreased since the pre-vaccine era.
All ages? Nope. Children have been protected from rising hepatitis deaths, as they are not typically at high risk for hepatitis C, which is causing the surge in deaths, and they should be vaccinated and protected against hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
What to Know About Viral Hepatitis Deaths
Viral hepatitis deaths are increasing, but only for non-vaccine preventable strains.
More on Viral Hepatitis Deaths
- CDC – Surveillance for Viral Hepatitis – United States, 2016
- CDC – Hepatitis B FAQs for the Public
- Unprotected People Reports: Hepatitis B
- Pediatric Hepatitis Report
- Hepatitis A, B, and C: Learn the Differences