WHO have long called for universal vaccination against hepatitis B worldwide. However, in north-western Europe low incidence of the disease has fueled debate whether targeted or universal vaccination strategies are the way to go for. Careful assessment has made it clear that the extensive targeted hepatitis B vaccination programmes in the Netherlands nevertheless fail to reach a significant part of the risk groups and have not succeeded in eliminating the disease. Modelling suggests that the public health benefits obtained through targeted programmes could be augmented considerably by universal vaccination. Therefore, the Minister of Health of the Netherlands has decided to implement universal vaccination by October 2011. We illustrate the case of the Netherlands and explore lessons, which can be learnt from the vaccination programmes against HPV and influenza A/H1N1 and how to prepare for a potential public debate that might arise when implementing universal vaccination against hepatitis B. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.