Indexed on: 22 Dec '04Published on: 22 Dec '04Published in: Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
The Steering Committee for the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases in Asia recently conducted a survey of primary-care physicians in Asia, which revealed that many physicians administer boosters in their clinical practice and that there is considerable variation and uncertainty among physicians regarding this practice. This paper serves as a response to physicians' uncertainties by reviewing the literature regarding the administration of hepatitis B vaccine boosters in high endemicity areas and presenting the Steering Committee's guidelines for booster administration. While there are few data to support a need for routine hepatitis B vaccine boosters as a public health measure, they help to provide reassurance of immunity against breakthrough infection in certain risk groups. In clinical practice, primary-care physicians must exercise their judgment regarding the need for booster vaccination on an individual basis. This paper examines the available literature on the administration and value of hepatitis B vaccine boosters, explores the differences between the public health approach and clinical practice, and provides guidelines for those who use boosters in high endemicity Asian populations. Relevant articles were identified through searches of MEDLINE (1975-2003) and the Cochrane Library, using 'hepatitis B' and 'booster' as primary search terms. Guidelines for those who decide to administer hepatitis B vaccine boosters include: boosting approximately 10-15 years after primary vaccination; boosting rather than not when monitoring of antibody levels is not feasible; boosting immunocompromised patients when the antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen titer falls below 10 mIU/mL; and boosting healthcare workers based on the endemicity of the particular country.