Not many data are available on long-term immunity against hepatitis B (HB) for children vaccinated under real-life conditions.
Two hundred and thirty-two children and adolescents vaccinated 6–14 years earlier in pediatric practices were examined for conditions of vaccination and markers of protection as anti-HBs, anamnestic response to a booster dose and cell-mediated immunity.
Fifty-six percent of the participants were vaccinated according to the German vaccination recommendations (group 1). In 44.0% (group 2), these recommendations were not followed. Anti-HBs concentrations of ≥10 IU/L were found in 53.1% of group 1 and 45.1% of group 2 participants. A booster dose resulted in 91 of 99 participants in having an anamnestic response, in 3 (5.9%) of group 1 and 5 (10.4%) of group 2 anti-HBs remained below 10 IU/L. In group 1, postbooster anti-HBs concentration was inversely correlated with time since the last vaccination. Cellular immune responses were seen in only 5% of revaccinated individuals before the booster, increasing to 30% thereafter.
Under real-life conditions about half of vaccinees have lost protecting antibodies 6–14 years after vaccination in infancy, but in approximately 90% of them, immune memory was demonstrated. However, as memory may wane, revaccination at a time when boostability is still present might be considered.