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Double hepatitis vaccine boosts immune response

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Reuters Health

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - About 5 percent to 10 percent of adults don't have an adequate immune response when they're vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus, which means they're still at risk of catching the infection. However, a clever strategy may overcome the problem.

Those "nonresponders" often become responders if they're given hepatitis A vaccine along with hepatitis B vaccine, a new Swedish study indicates.

A repeated course of standard 3-dose hepatitis B vaccination is usually recommended for people who fail to develop protective levels of antibodies to the virus. Instead of this strategy, Dr. Kristina Cardell from University Hospital, Linkoping and colleagues opted to administer a combined hepatitis A and B vaccine.

Their study involved 48 healthcare workers who had failed to have a good immune response to hepatitis B vaccination. After the 3 doses of the double vaccine, 95 percent of these nonresponders had developed protective levels of anti-hepatitis B antibodies, the investigators report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

"These results are among the best achieved in comparable studies using revaccination with the standard hepatitis B vaccine," Dr. Helmut M. Diepolder from the University of Munich, Germany, writes in a commentary.

"Importantly," he adds, "the combined vaccine was well tolerated and is, thus, an interesting option to use in hepatitis B nonresponders."

SOURCE: Journal of Infectious Diseases, August 1, 2008.

Reuters Health

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