Evaluation of the Protection Provided by Hepatitis B Vaccination in India


Objective: In India, Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended at 6 wk except for hospital-deliveries. The authors examined protection afforded by the birth dose. Methods: A case-control study was done. HBsAg and HBcAb were tested in 2671 children, 1 to 5 y and HBsAb was evaluated in a subset of 1413 children. Vaccination history was recorded. Cases were HBsAg carriers. In another analysis, children who got infected (HBsAg and/or HBcAb positive) were considered as cases. Exposed were the unvaccinated. In another analysis, exposed were those vaccinated without the birth dose. Results: The odds ratio (OR) for HBsAg positivity with birth vaccination was 0.35 (95% CI 0.19–0.66); while with vaccination at 6 wk was 0.29 (95%CI 0.14–0.61), both compared to unvaccinated. Birth vaccination has no added protection when compared to the unvaccinated. Unvaccinated children in index study had HBsAg positivity of 4.38%. The number needed to treat (NNT) to prevent one case of HBsAg positivity was 32.6 (95% CI, 20.9 to 73.6). The odds of getting HBV infection was 0.42 (CI 0.25–0.68) with birth dose and 0.49 (CI 0.30–0.82) without the birth dose compared to the unvaccinated. Protective antibody (HBsAb) was present in about 70% of the vaccinated. In the unimmunised, in the first 2 y HBsAb protection was present in 40%. The odds ratio (OR) for HBsAb in the fully vaccinated between 4 and 5 y was 1.4 (95%CI 0.9–2.18) compared to the unvaccinated. Conclusions: The present study lends support to the pragmatic approach of the Government to vaccinate babies born at home starting at 6 wk.