Health Concerns

Hepatitis B


Vaccination. The availability of HBV vaccine and anti-HBV antibodies has significantly lowered HBV infection rates throughout the world. The first HBV vaccine was introduced in 1982, along with official recommendations for its use in high-risk groups (Rich 2003). Recommendations for childhood (CDC 1991) and adolescent (CDC 1996) vaccination programs were published within the decade. A synthetic version of the vaccine was introduced in 1986, replacing blood-derived versions of the vaccine (WHO 2009), and a thimerosal-free version has been available since 1999 (CDC 1999).

Immunization may be one way to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HBV. In an analysis of several trials of children born to infected mothers, immunization reduced likelihood of mother-to-child transfer by 72% (Lee 2006). This protective effect decreased significantly when the initial dose of vaccine was delayed more than 7 days following birth (Marion 1994, WHO 2009).

As mentioned above, rates of vaccination are relatively low among high-risk populations in the U.S. (Ladak 2012). Healthcare workers at risk of HBV infection are recommended to receive the vaccine. However, in a study of matriculating healthcare students at U.S. University, only about 60% had been vaccinated (Tohme 2011).