Increases in Levels of Antibody to Hepatitis B Surface Antigen in an Immunized Population

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Hepatitis B vaccine is effective in preventing infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV), but its duration of protection is unknown. To examine the effect of exposure to HBV on an immunized population, data were analyzed from a cohort of Alaska Natives who were immunized and then followed up annually for 10 years. A boost in antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs) was defined as a fourfold rise in levels to ≥20 mIU/mL that was not accompanied by the presence of antibody to hepatitis B core antigen or attributable to interim vaccination. During 10 years of follow-up, 8.2% of 1,595 vaccinees had boosts in anti-HBs. Persons with boosts did not differ significantly from those without boosts in terms of age, gender, village, initial level of anti-HBs, or level of anti-HBs before the boost. These results underscore the continued exposure to HBV among vaccinees and the continued protection against disease that the vaccine provides.

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