TORONTO — A Canada-wide shortage of the vaccine that protects against both hepatitis A and B could put a bit of a damper on Canadian sun-seekers’ travel plans this winter.
Twinrix is often prescribed for people heading to southern destinations where there is an increased risk of getting infected with the liver-attacking viruses, but the vaccine is in short-supply for both adults and children.
Hepatitis A is mostly spread through contaminated food and water. Most people infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage, but in some cases infection can lead to sudden liver failure.
Hepatitis B, a more serious disease primarily spread through sex, can lead to a chronic infection that increases the risk of cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline says vaccine production is a complex process that can take 10 to 26 months, and product shortages can occur due to unexpected demand, supply-chain disruptions or production issues.
GSK says Twinrix remains in limited supply, with ongoing efforts to restock the market. But the company anticipates disruptions may continue until availability of the vaccine stabilizes.