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Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Feb 15;60(4):505-13. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu867. Epub 2014 Nov 10.

Durability of antibody response against hepatitis B virus in healthcare workers vaccinated as adults.

Author information

Liver Diseases Branch.
Biostatistics, Intramural Research.
Liver Disease Research Branch, Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.



Follow-up studies of recipients of hepatitis B vaccine from endemic areas have reported loss of antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs) in a high proportion of persons vaccinated at birth. In contrast, the long-term durability of antibody in persons vaccinated as adults in nonendemic areas is not well defined. We aimed to assess the durability of anti-HBs among healthcare workers (HCWs) vaccinated as adults and response to a booster among those without protective levels of antibody.


Adult HCWs aged 18-60 at the time of initial vaccination were recruited. All were tested for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc), and anti-HBs level. HCWs with anti-HBs <12 mIU/mL were offered a booster and levels were measured 1, 7, and 21 days afterward.


Anti-HBs levels were <12 mIU/mL in 9 of 50 (18%), 13 of 50 (26%), and 14 of 59 (24%) HCWs 10-15, 16-20, and >20 years postvaccination, respectively, (P = ns). Four HCWs were anti-HBc positive; none had HBsAg. By logistic regression, older age at vaccination was the only predictor of inadequate anti-HBs level (P = .0005). Thirty-four of 36 subjects with inadequate anti-HBs levels received a booster and 32 (94%) developed levels >12 mIU/mL within 3 weeks.


Anti-HBs levels decrease after 10-31 years and fall below a level considered protective in approximately 25% of cases. The rapid and robust response to a booster vaccine suggests a long-lasting amnestic response. Hepatitis B vaccination provides long-term protection against hepatitis B and booster vaccination does not appear to be necessary in HCWs. Clinical Trials Registration. NCT01182311.


booster vaccination; chronic hepatitis B; healthcare workers; hepatitis B vaccine

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