After several decades of vaccination against hepatitis B virus in newborns, infants, adolescents, and adults, the question remains whether a booster dose is ever needed. Long-term protection is most commonly measured through 4 methods: the anamnestic response after administration of a booster dose, infection rate in vaccinated populations, in vitro B and T cell activity testing, and seroepidemiological studies. Long-term protection is present despite a decrease in anti-hepatitis B surface antibodies over time. The exact mechanism of long-term protection, however, is not yet fully understood. There is no need for boosters in immunologically potent persons as long as a full course was adequately administered that respected the recommended timelines, as evidenced by studies conducted up to 20 years after the original immunization course. However, a booster dose should be planned for immunocompromised patients, based on serological monitoring.
© The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved.