How Effective is Hepatitis B Vaccine?
The CDC estimates that after completion of the three dose series of hepatitis B vaccine, over 90 percent of individuals will develop antibodies.1 All vaccines only stimulate artificial, temporary immunity, and the length of immunity conferred by the hepatitis B vaccine and the future need for more "booster" doses later in life is still not clear. At this time, the CDC is not recommending booster doses for Hepatitis B, however, studies show that only 16 percent of individuals who were vaccinated at birth, one month and six months, as most infants are today, show antibodies after 18 years of age.2 In individuals who were administered the three dose series after the age of one, 74 percent have persistent antibodies against Hepatitis B.3
As 60-97.7 percent of individuals who receive a “booster” dose of hepatitis B respond rapidly with antibodies, the CDC believes that this is indicative of “immunological memory” 4 and exposure to Hepatitis B should result in rapid antibody response and protection. However, according to the CDC, this 2013 conclusion is based on few studies and “might change as additional data become available”.5
More recent research conduct after the CDC’s conclusion suggests that the effectiveness of the vaccine wanes over time and it is possible that additional booster doses will be recommended.6
Neither Recombivax-HB7 nor Engerix-B8 product inserts provide information on long-term effectiveness of the hepatitis B vaccine.
IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Hepatitis B and the Hepatitis B vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
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1 CDC. Viral Hepatitis – Hepatitis B FAQs for the Public – Is the Hepatitis B Series Effective? May 23, 2016
2 CDC. CDC Guidance for Evaluating Health-Care Personnel for Hepatitis B Virus Protection and for Administering Postexposure Management. MMWR. Dec. 20, 2013 - 62(RR10);1-19
6 Amponsah-Dacosta E, Lebelo RL et al. Evidence for a change in the epidemiology of hepatitis B virus infection after nearly two decades of universal hepatitis B vaccination in South Africa. J Med Virol 2014; 86(6): 918-924.
7 FDA.gov Recombivax-HB Package Insert. May 20, 2014
8 FDA.gov Engerix-B - Package Insert Apr. 28, 2016