Long-term persistency of hepatitis B immunity: an observational cross-sectional study on medical students and resident doctors


Hepatitis B virus
Occupational Health
Immunological Memory


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a main cause of chronic and acute hepatitis. Healthcare workers (HCWs), including medical students and resident doctors, have an occupational risk of HBV infection.

The study aimed to evaluate the long-term persistence of protective anti-HBs antibody levels in healthcare students and resident doctors at risk for occupational exposure to (HBV) at 15 years after primary vaccination course. Further objective was to evaluate the anamnestic response observed in non-seroprotected subjects receiving a booster dose.

Data were collected from the clinical documentation filled in during the occupational medical check of medical students and resident doctors undergoing Occupational Health Surveillance by the University of Ferrara.

Of the 621 included individuals, 27.7% had an anti-HBs concentration <10 mIU/mL. Subjects vaccinated during infancy had more frequently a concentration <10mIU/mL than those vaccinated during adolescence (42.7% versus 6.9%; p-value <0.001). Multivariate analysis confirmed the statistical significance of the vaccination age. 94 subjects who had an anti-HBs concentration <10 mIU/mL received a booster dose. The proportion of subjects who had an anamnestic response was higher in those vaccinated in infancy rather than during adolescence (94.1% versus 77.8% respectively).

These findings suggest that the anti-HBs concentration decreases below 10 mIU/mL more frequently in subjects vaccinated during infancy. Immunological memory seems to persist after the decline of the anti-HB titer, as observed in response to a booster dose. In conclusion, vaccinated subjects at increased risk of HBV infection should be monitored and a booster dose administered if anti-HBs titer is below 10 mIU/mL.



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