The long-term protection of hepatitis B (HB) vaccination has been debated for years. The purpose here was to evaluate the kinetic changes of antibody to HB surface antigen (anti-HBs) and define immune memory of the HB vaccine among college students who had previously received full neonatal immunization against HB. In all, 127 college students aged 18-23 years born after July 1984 who had completed HB vaccination and were seronegative for all three HB viral markers, including HB surface antigen (HBsAg), antibody to HB core protein (anti-HBc), and anti-HBs, were recruited. They received three doses of HB vaccine at enrollment, 1 month and 6 months after enrollment. Their anti-HBs titers were assayed at enrollment, 7-10 days, 1 month, 6 months, and 7 months following the first dose of HB vaccine. The anti-HBs seroprotective rates for subjects 7-10 days, 1 month, 6 months, and 7 months postvaccination were 20.5%, 75.6%, 94.5%, and 99.2%, respectively. Those who were seroprotective at 7 to 10 days after one dose of HB vaccine booster developed significantly higher levels of anti-HBs at 1 and 6 months than those not developing seroprotective anti-HBs response at an earlier timepoint. Conclusion: At least one-quarter of HB vaccinees have lost their immune memory to the HB vaccine when entering college. Immune memory to HB vaccine was identified by early seroconversion, which was present in only 20% of vaccinees in the present study. To ensure higher than 90% anti-HBs seroconversion rates, at least 2 doses of HB booster vaccines are recommended for at-risk youths who received complete HB vaccinations in neonatal or infant periods but are seronegative for HBsAg, anti-HBs, and anti-HBc in adolescence.
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