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Universal hepatitis B vaccination in Belgium: impact on serological markers 3 and 7 years after implementation

  • H. THEETEN (a1), V. HUTSE (a2), K. HOPPENBROUWERS (a3), P. BEUTELS (a1) and P. VAN DAMME (a1)...

Summary

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can be eliminated by effective universal vaccination. In Belgium, a free-of-charge HBV vaccination programme in infants with catch-up in adolescents was introduced in 1999. To evaluate the effects in <20-year-olds, seroprotection (anti-HBs >11 mIU/ml, according to the assay) and markers of infection (anti-HBc, HBsAg) were assessed in 2443 residual sera collected 7–8 years after implementation of the programme. The maximal prevalence of a solely anti-HBs seroprotective (‘vaccinated’) serostatus was 82·9% at age 1 year and 60·5% at age 13 years. A clear increase was found in age cohorts targeted by the campaign after a similar serosurvey conducted 4 years earlier. The prevalence of HBV infection remained unchanged at a low level (1·8% in 2006) similar to pre-vaccination data (1993–1994). We conclude that universal HBV vaccination has achieved overall high levels of vaccine-induced immunity, despite regional variations, which may give rise to pockets of susceptible young adults in the future.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Author for correspondence: Dr H. Theeten, Center for the Evaluation of Vaccination, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium. (Email: heidi.theeten@ua.ac.be)

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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
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