Diabetics under 60 should get hep B vaccine

In addition to its recommendations about the HPV shot for boys, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said diabetics under the age of 60 should get the hepatitis B vaccine. Experts voted 12 to 2 in favor of the endorsement after studies showed diabetics were twice as likely to contract the disease versus healthy individuals. The findings did not hold true for those older than 60.

Hep B, which is caused by contact with blood and other bodily fluids, can cause liver damage or cancer if it becomes chronic. Back in 1991, the CDC recommended that children get the vaccine. That recommendation has been extended to other high-risk groups since then. Diabetics are more susceptible to the disease due to the necessity of blood glucose monitoring.

Merck's ($MRK) Recombivax and GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Engerix-B are the only two approved hep B vaccines in the U.S. However, Berkeley, CA-based Dynavax Technologies's promising candidate Heplisav is currently in Phase III clinical trials. Following the CDC panel's announcement this week, Dynavax unveiled data showing Heplisav offers diabetics better protection from hep B than GSK's Engerix-B.

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