Single-Dose Universal Hepatitis A Immunization in Argentina: Low Viral Circulation and High Persistence of Protective Antibodies Up to 4 Years

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Abstract

Background

Single-dose hepatitis A virus (HAV) vaccination was implemented in all Argentinean children aged 12 months in 2005. Between 2005 and 2011, a dramatic decline was observed in HAV infection rates, fulminant hepatitis, and liver transplantation. This study assessed current viral circulation and estimated protective antibody persistence 4 years after vaccination.

Methods

Prevalence of prevaccination anti-HAV antibodies in 12-month-old children was evaluated as an indirect estimation of viral circulation (Group A). Seroprevalence was also measured in 5-year-old children who received 1 dose of HAV vaccine at 1 year of age (Group B). Blood samples were tested for immunoglobulin (Ig)G anti-HAV antibodies (seroprotection = ≥10 mIU/mL). All Group A-positive samples were tested for IgM anti-HAV antibodies to identify recent infections. Logistic regression analysis was done to evaluate associations between demographic and socioeconomic variables and seroprotection.

Results

Of 433 children from Group A, 29.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], 25.2–33.8) were positive for IgG anti-HAV antibodies with a geometric mean concentration (GMC) of 6.17 mIU/mL (95% CI, 5.33–7.15 mIU/mL); all IgM anti-HAV were negative. From 1139 in Group B, 93% (95% CI, 91.7–94.6) maintained seroprotection with a GMC of 97.96 mIU/mL (95% CI, 89.21–107.57 mIU/mL). Kindergarten attendance was associated with seroprotection in Group B (odds ratio [OR], 2.0; 95% CI, 1.26–3.3). In contrast, high maternal educational level was associated with a lack of seroprotection in this group (OR, .26; 95% CI, .09–.8).

Conclusions

Single-dose, universal hepatitis A immunization in infants resulted in low HAV circulation and persistent immunologic protection up to 4 years in Argentina. Variables associated with presence or absence of seroprotection in vaccinated children could be related to differences in hygiene habits in settings with residual viral circulation.

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