Hepatitis B vaccine – do we need boosters?


Prof. Jangu Banatvala, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Virology, Guys Kings and St Thomas’ School of Medicine and Dentistry, London SE1 7EH, UK. E-mail: jangu@church-end-henham.co.uk


summary. This review analyses the cumulated data from a number of long-term follow-up studies among infants, children and adults vaccinated against hepatitis B in industrialised and developing countries. Despite low or undetectable antibody responses years ater vaccination, the development of HBsAg was a rarity and, if present, only transient. Some vaccinees developed anti-HBc responses but none developed an HB carrier state or clinical manifestations of disease. Studies demonstrating anamnestic responses among those with low or undetectable anti-HBs levels following challenge with HB vaccine, together with the production of anti-HBs in circulating B-cells by spot ELISA, confirmed the presence of immune memory among vaccinees. Anamnestic anti-HBs responses all correlate close in kinetics and magnitude with proliferative T-cell responses. The accumulated data from studies assessed in this Review indicate that protection is dependent on immune memory, rather than declining anti-HBs responses and add additional weight to the European Consensus recommendations (12) that following a complete course of vaccination, booster doses are unnecessary in immunocompetent persons. If implemented, this recommendation will have considerable cost benefits world-wide.