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Hepatitis B vaccine
Vaccine description
Target disease Hepatitis B
Type Subunit
CAS number  ?
ATC code J07BC01
PubChem  ?
Therapeutic considerations
Pregnancy cat.  ?
Legal status
Routes  ?

Hepatitis B vaccine is a vaccine developed for the prevention of hepatitis B virus infection. The vaccine contains one of the viral envelope proteins, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). A course of three (3) vaccine injections are given with the second injection at least one month after the first dose and the third injection given six months after the first dose.[1] Afterward an immune system antibody to HBsAg is established in the bloodstream. The antibody is known as anti-HBsAg. This antibody and immune system memory then provide immunity to hepatitis B infection.[2] The first vaccine became available in 1981.


Recommended populations

Babies born to mothers with active hepatitis B infections are recommended to receive treatment reducing the risk of mother-to-child transmission of the hepatitis B infection. As soon as possible and within 48 hours of birth, newborns are vaccinated with hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and injected with hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG).[3]

Many countries now routinely vaccinate infants against hepatitis B. In countries with high rates of hepatitis B infection, vaccination of newborns has not only reduced the risk of infection, but has also led to marked reduction in liver cancer. This was reported in Taiwan where the implementation of a nationwide hepatitis B vaccination program in 1984 was associated with a decline in the incidence of childhood hepatocellular carcinoma.[4]

In many areas, vaccination against hepatitis B is also required for all health-care and laboratory staff.[5] Some college campus housing units now require proof of vaccination as a prerequisite.

An Australian couple in August 2008 went on the run after the New South Wales Supreme Court extended an order forcing them to immunise their newborn against the disease. DOCS (Department of Community Services) took out the order, as doctors say the five-day-old baby is at a high risk of contracting the illness as his mother has the disease. The parents believe (see Vaccine controversy) that aluminium in the vaccine would cause the baby more harm than the disease itself.[6][7]

Response to vaccination

Following the primary course of 3 vaccinations, a blood test may be taken after an interval of 1–4 months to establish if there has been an adequate response, which is defined as an anti-hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-Hbs) antibody level above 100 mIU/ml. Such a full response occurs in about 85-90% of individuals.[8]

An antibody level between 10 and 100 mIU/ml is considered a poor response, and these people should receive a single booster vaccination at this time, but do not need further retesting.[8]

People who fail to respond (anti-Hbs antibody level below 10 mIU/ml) should be tested to exclude current or past Hepatitis B infection, and given a repeat course of 3 vaccinations, followed by further retesting 1–4 months after the second course. Those who still do not respond to a second course of vaccination may respond to a high dose of vaccine or to intradermal administration.[9][10][11] Those who still fail to respond will require hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) if later exposed to the hepatitis B virus.[8]

Poor responses are mostly associated with being over the age of 40 years, obesity and smoking,[12] and also in alcoholics, especially if with advanced liver disease.[13] Patients who are immunosuppressed or on renal dialysis may respond less well and require larger or more frequent doses of vaccine.[8] At least one study suggests that hepatitis B vaccination is less effective in patients with HIV.[14]

Duration of protection

Although initially it was thought that the hepatitis B vaccine did not provide indefinite protection, this is no longer considered the case. Previous reports had suggested vaccination would provide effective cover of between five and seven years,[15][16] but subsequently it has been appreciated that long-term immunity derives from immunological memory which outlasts the loss of antibody levels and hence subsequent testing and administration of booster doses is not required in successfully vaccinated immunocompetent individuals.[17][18] Hence with the passage of time and longer experience, protection has been shown for at least 25 years in those who showed an adequate initial response to the primary course of vaccinations,[19] and UK guidelines now suggest that for initial responders who require ongoing protection, such as for healthcare workers, only a single booster is advocated at 5 years.[8]


Several studies looked for a significant association between recombinant hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) and multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults. Most published scientific studies do not support a causal relationship between hepatitis B vaccination and demyelinating diseases such as MS.[20] A 2004 study[21] reported a significant increase in risk within 3 years of vaccination. Some of these studies were criticized for methodological problems. This controversy created public misgivings about HB vaccination, and hepatitis B vaccination in children remained low in several countries. A 2007 study found that the vaccination does not seem to increase the risk of a first episode of MS in childhood.[22]


  1. ^ "Hepatitis B Vaccine". Doylestown, Pennsylvania: Hepatitis B Foundation. 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2009-10-22.  
  2. ^ "CDC Viral Hepatitis". Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2009-10-22.  
  3. ^ Mast (2005). "A comprehensive immunization strategy to eliminate transmission of hepatitis B virus infection in the United States: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) part 1: immunization of infants, children, and adolescents" (Free full text). MMWR. Recommendations and reports : Morbidity and mortality weekly report. Recommendations and reports / Centers for Disease Control 54 (RR-16): 1–31. PMID 16371945.   edit
  4. ^ Chang, M. -H.; Chen, C. -J.; Lai, M. -S.; Hsu, H. -M.; Wu, T. -C.; Kong, M. -S.; Liang, D. -C.; Shau, W. -Y. et al. (1997). "Universal Hepatitis B Vaccination in Taiwan and the Incidence of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Children". New England Journal of Medicine 336 (26): 1855. doi:10.1056/NEJM199706263362602. PMID 9197213.   edit
  5. ^ Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (2006). "Chapter 12 Immunisation of healthcare and laboratory staff -- Hepatitis B" (PDF). Immunisation Against Infectious Disease 2006 ("The Green Book") (3rd ed.). Edinburgh: Stationery Office. pp. 468. ISBN 0113225288.  
  6. ^ "Evidence supports action against 'hep B' baby's parents: DOCS". Sydney, Australia: ABC News. 2008-08-25. Retrieved 2009-10-22.  
  7. ^ "Court extends order for 'hep B' baby". Croydon Park, Australia: ABC News. 2008-08-25. Retrieved 2009-10-22.  
  8. ^ a b c d e Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (2006). "Chapter 18 Hepatitis B" (PDF). Immunisation Against Infectious Disease 2006 ("The Green Book") (3rd edition (Chapter 18 revised 10 October 2007) ed.). Edinburgh: Stationery Office. pp. 468. ISBN 0113225288.  
  9. ^ King; Taylor, EM; Crow, SD; White, MC; Todd, JR; Poe, MB; Conrad, SA; Gelder, FB (1990). "Comparison of the immunogenicity of hepatitis B vaccine administered intradermally and intramuscularly". Reviews of infectious diseases 12 (6): 1035–43. PMID 2148433.   edit
  10. ^ Levitz; Cooper, BW; Regan, HC (1995). "Immunization with high-dose intradermal recombinant hepatitis B vaccine in healthcare workers who failed to respond to intramuscular vaccination". Infection control and hospital epidemiology : the official journal of the Society of Hospital Epidemiologists of America 16 (2): 88–91. PMID 7759824.   edit
  11. ^ Cardell, K.; Åkerlind, B.; Sällberg, M.; Frydén, A. (2008). "Excellent Response Rate to a Double Dose of the Combined Hepatitis a and B Vaccine in Previous Nonresponders to Hepatitis B Vaccine". The Journal of Infectious Diseases 198: 299–226. doi:10.1086/589722.   edit
  12. ^ Roome, A. J. (1993). "Hepatitis B vaccine responsiveness in Connecticut public safety personnel". JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association 270: 2931. doi:10.1001/jama.270.24.2931.   edit
  13. ^ Rosman, Md, A.; Basu, P.; Galvin, K.; Lieber, C. (1997). "Efficacy of a High and Accelerated Dose of Hepatitis B Vaccine in Alcoholic Patients a Randomized Clinical Trial". The American Journal of Medicine 103 (3): 217–222. doi:10.1016/S0002-9343(97)00132-0. PMID 9316554.   edit
  14. ^ Pasricha, N.; Datta, U.; Chawla, Y.; Singh, S.; Arora, S.; Sud, A.; Minz, R.; Saikia, B. et al. (2006). "Immune responses in patients with HIV infection after vaccination with recombinant Hepatitis B virus vaccine". BMC Infectious Diseases 6: 65. doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-65. PMID 16571140.   edit
  15. ^ Krugman; Davidson, M (1987). "Hepatitis B vaccine: prospects for duration of immunity". The Yale journal of biology and medicine 60 (4): 333–9. PMID 3660859.   edit
  16. ^ Petersen, K. M. (2004). "Duration of Hepatitis B Immunity in Low Risk Children Receiving Hepatitis B Vaccinations from Birth" (Free full text). The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 23: 650. doi:10.1097/01.inf.0000130952.96259.fd.   edit
  17. ^ Gabbuti, A.; Romanò, L.; Blanc, P.; Meacci, F.; Amendola, A.; Mele, A.; Mazzotta, F.; Zanetti, A. R. (2007). "Long-term immunogenicity of hepatitis B vaccination in a cohort of Italian healthy adolescents". Vaccine 25 (16): 3129–3132. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2007.01.045. PMID 17291637.   edit
  18. ^ "Are booster immunisations needed for lifelong hepatitis B immunity?". The Lancet 355: 561–565. 2000. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(99)07239-6.   edit
  19. ^ Vandamme, P.; Van Herck, K. (2007). "A review of the long-term protection after hepatitis a and B vaccination". Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease 5 (2): 79–84. doi:10.1016/j.tmaid.2006.04.004. PMID 17298912.   edit
  20. ^ FAQs about Hepatitis B Vaccine (Hep B) and Multiple Sclerosis, CDC
  21. ^ Hernán; Jick, SS; Olek, MJ; Jick, H (2004). "Recombinant hepatitis B vaccine and the risk of multiple sclerosis: a prospective study". Neurology 63 (5): 838–42. PMID 15365133.   edit
  22. ^ Mikaeloff, Y.; Caridade, G.; Rossier, M.; Suissa, S.; Tardieu, M. (2007). "Hepatitis B Vaccination and the Risk of Childhood-Onset Multiple Sclerosis". Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 161 (12): 1176. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.12.1176. PMID 18056563.   edit


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