Long term persistence of immunity to Hepatitis B after vaccination during infancy in a country where endemicity is low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • EH Boxall
  • J Sira
  • N El-Shukri
  • Deirdre Kelly

Colleges, School and Institutes


BACKGROUND: The long-term response to hepatitis B vaccination during infancy has not been fully evaluated in countries where endemicity is low. METHODS: The present study was a serological investigation of immunity to hepatitis B during adolescence. In a cohort of children who were born to hepatitis B virus carrier mothers and who were vaccinated during infancy, evidence of past or current infection and the response to a single booster dose of vaccine were analyzed. Sixty-four children whose antibody levels were measured after immunization (group 1) and 52 younger siblings who did not undergo postvaccination antibody tests (group 2) were studied. RESULTS: One child in each group showed evidence of natural infection. In group 1, 32 children (50%) had undetectable antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs), and only 8 (13%) had levels >100 mIU/mL. After a booster dose of vaccine, only 7 (11%) still had undetectable anti-HBs, 3 (5%) showed a primary response, and 50 (78%) had levels >100 mIU/mL. Five of the 7 vaccine nonresponders and all of the primary responders had also received hepatitis B-specific immunoglobulin (HBIG) at birth. The children in group 2 showed a similar response to the vaccine, but with slightly higher levels of anti-HBs. CONCLUSIONS: Most children vaccinated at birth retain immunological memory to hepatitis B vaccine for 15 years, but those who did not were more likely to have received HBIG at birth, suggesting that passive antibody may interfere with the induction of immunological memory.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1264-1269
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of Infectious Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004