Persistence of antibody in healthcare workers vaccinated against hepatitis B.
A cross-sectional serological survey was undertaken in 82 randomly selected high-risk healthcare workers previously vaccinated with the hepatitis B vaccine. The study design allowed for the identification and testing for hepatitis B surface antibody in equal numbers of employees in six-month intervals up to five years after vaccination. The results showed a consistent decline in antibody level with time, and an increasing proportion of participants with antibody levels below the commonly accepted protective level of greater than or equal to 10 S/N (sample counts/negative control counts) radioimmunoassay units. The percent of vaccinees whose S/N ratio was greater than 10 fell from 10% at one year, to 25% at two years, to over 50% at four years. Based on these figures, as well as the financial costs of hepatitis B in employees and the predictability of booster immunization, it was possible to assess the cost benefit of a hospital policy for reimmunization. At our institution, a strategy of revaccination at fixed intervals could save up to $200,000 over a ten-year period if revaccination was not offered and vaccine efficacy declined. The information obtained should help determine the need for revaccination and the advantages and disadvantages of alternative revaccination strategies.
Street, AC; Weddle, TZ; Thomann, WR; Lundberg, EW; Jackson, GW; Hamilton, JD
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