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Reuters Health Information (2005-02-28): Hepatitis B vaccination protective for at least 15 years

Public Health

Hepatitis B vaccination protective for at least 15 years

Last Updated: 2005-02-28 17:00:04 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - After receiving three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, recipients are protected against infection for at least 15 years, according to a report in the March 1st issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Previous reports have shown that hepatitis B vaccination provides protection for 10 years. However, the duration of protection beyond this period was unclear.

To investigate, Dr. Brian J. McMahon, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from 1578 Alaska Natives who were vaccinated at 6 months of age and older. Between 1981 and 1982, the subjects received three doses of plasma-derived hepatitis B vaccine.

Mean levels of antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs) were 822 mIU/mL after vaccination and fell to 27 mIU/mL 15 years later.

Predictors of higher anti-HBs levels at 15-year follow-up included high initial levels, older age at vaccination, and male gender, the researchers report. By contrast, vaccination between 6 months and 4 years was associated with low anti-HBs levels at follow-up.

Asymptomatic breakthrough infections were observed in 16 subjects and were associated with a lack of vaccine response (p = 0.01), the investigators point out. Among patients with viremia, several had hepatitis B virus surface glycoprotein variants.

The team concludes, "Hepatitis B Vaccination strongly protected against infection for at least 15 years in all age groups."

In a related editorial, Dr. Ding-Shinn Chen, from the National Taiwan University College of Medicine in Taipei, comments that the findings argue against a need for booster vaccinations. "Unless continued follow-up and surveillance show clinically significant rates of infection in adolescents or adults who were vaccinated as children, booster vaccinations will be wasteful."

Ann Intern Med 2005;142:333-341.

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