Risk Factors for Lack of Detectable Antibody Following Hepatitis B Vaccination of Minnesota Health Care Workers

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To assess the presence of antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs) at postvaccination testing in Minnesota health care workers receiving recombinant hepatitis B vaccines, and to identify risk factors for lacking anti-HBs following hepatitis B vaccination.


Retrospective cohort study.


Ten acute care hospitals in Minnesota.


A total of 595 health care workers who had received hepatitis B vaccine (Recombivax HB or Engerix-B) between June 1987 and December 1991 and who underwent postvaccination testing for anti-HBs within 6 months after receiving the third dose of vaccine.


Presence or absence of anti-HBs following hepatitis B vaccination.


Five variables were independently associated with lacking anti-HBs by multivariate analysis: vaccine brand, smoking status, gender, age, and body mass index. Stratifying by vaccine brand demonstrated that age (P=.01), body mass index (P<.01), and smoking status (P<.01) were associated with lacking anti-HBs only for Recombivax HB recipients; and gender (P=.03) was associated with lacking anti-HBs only for Engerix-B recipients. After controlling for smoking status, age, gender, and body mass index, recipients of Recombivax HB were more likely to lack anti-HBs than recipients of Engerix-B (relative risk, 2.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 4.7; P=.02).


Results indicate that certain populations of health care workers are at increased risk of not responding to hepatitis B vaccination. Further studies evaluating immunogenicity of currently available recombinant hepatitis B vaccines in persons at high risk for primary vaccine failure are needed.

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