Will Infant Hepatitis B Vaccination Protect Into Adulthood?: Extended Canadian Experience After a 2-, 4- and 6-month Immunization Schedule

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Abstract

Background:

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination programs generally target infants to prevent chronic HBV infection and/or preadolescents to reduce transmission in adulthood. To assess whether infant HBV immunization can potentially accomplish both objectives, we measured residual immunity 10–16 years after vaccination in Canadian children.

Methods:

A prospective, parallel group, single center study enrolled adolescents given HBV vaccine at 2, 4 and 6 months of age. Exclusion criteria included prior HBV infection and additional vaccinations. At follow-up anti-HBs testing, participants were 10–11 or 15–16 years old; those with <12 mIU/mL anti-HBs by the assay used were challenged with HBV vaccine to assess immune memory-based responsiveness.

Results:

A total of 137 tested participants were 10–11 and 213 were 15–16 years old, respectively; none had evidence of prior HBV infection. At baseline, 78% of younger and 64% of older participants had <12 mIU/mL anti-HBs (P = 0.006) and were challenged with vaccine: 103/106 (97.2%) younger and 123/135 (91.1%) older participants developed ≥12 mIU/mL anti-HBs (P = 0.06), with geometric mean antibody concentration of 590 (95% confidence interval: 473–737) and 319 mIU/mL (95% confidence interval: 229–445; P = 0.004), respectively. Immune memory loss may have occurred in 3 younger (2.2%) and 12 older children (5.6%; P = 0.06) who were nonresponsive to first but not second vaccine challenge.

Conclusions:

After HBV vaccination at 2, 4 and 6 months of age, most adolescents had little or no residual antibody but nearly all responded to HBV challenge, confirming immune memory persistence. However, anamnestic responses were weaker in 15- to 16-year olds and lost in some. Booster responses in 10- to 11-year olds were vigorous in comparison. Extended evaluation of protection is warranted.

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