The Ministry of Health and Wellness has advised the public that the Hepatitis B vaccine is provided free of cost to infants and medical and nursing students. All other persons are required to purchase the vaccine from the private sector.
This was made clear after a complaint from a member of the public went viral on social media. The mother complained that she was given a form at the Eunice Gibson Polyclinic to purchase the vaccine, which her daughter requires for entry into the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology.
A statement from the Ministry today explained that the only students who received the Hepatitis B vaccine for free at the island’s polyclinics were medical and nursing students attending the University of the West Indies and Barbados Community College.
The vaccine is also administered free of cost in the polyclinic system as part of the childhood immunisation schedule to all infants at ages two months, four months and six months. The vaccine was introduced in June 2001 at significant cost to the Ministry of Health and Wellness to infants so as to provide lifelong protection.
The vaccine provides protection to persons at risk of developing Hepatitis B, which is usually transmitted by transfusion of blood products and through sexual intercourse.