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Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2004 Dec;22(4):237-42.

Changing hepatitis A epidemiology and the need for vaccination in Korea.

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Department of Pediatrics, Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, Catholic University of Korea, Incheon, South Korea.


Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease with 1.5 million people infected world-wide annually. Improvement in the socio-economic status and general public health measures of Asian countries over the last 20 years has led to a shift in the seroprevalence of hepatitis A in many of these countries. In Korea, like in many other developed countries, this lowered endemicity has caused an upward shift in the average age of infection, resulting in larger numbers of individuals at risk of clinically significant hepatitis A infection. Sporadic outbreaks increase the public health burden of the disease. Inactivated hepatitis A vaccines are an effective prevention measure and have been shown to be safe, efficacious and well-tolerated in Korean children. Given this changing epidemiology of the disease and the associated increase in morbidity, vaccination of young children who are not immune, as well as other high risk groups, should be recommended.

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