1 From the Vaccine Evaluation Center, BC Children's Hospital Research Institute, Vancouver, Canada.
Globally, infant hepatitis B virus (HBV) immunization programs are markedly reducing the rate of chronic HBV infections among children <5 years of age. Desirable improvements include increased birth dose coverage and better prevention of perinatal HBV transmission. Follow-up studies show that by the teenage years most of those immunized as infants have lost circulating anti-HBs antibody and some fail to respond to challenge HBV vaccination, implying loss of protection from infection. With high exposure to HBV, such individuals can develop breakthrough HBV infection but this rarely leads to chronic infection, the main goal of prevention programs. While longer-term follow-up studies into adulthood are needed, current evidence does not support a need for booster immunization of otherwise healthy teens or young adults.