Research Article

Immunisation of neonates at high risk of hepatitis B in England and Wales: national surveillance.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.297.6643.249 (Published 23 July 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:249
  1. S. Polakoff,
  2. E. M. Vandervelde
  1. Hepatitis Epidemiology Unit, Central Public Health Laboratory, London.

    Abstract

    The results of a voluntary programme of immunisation against hepatitis B in neonates at high risk (mother being positive for hepatitis B surface antigen and without hepatitis B e antibody or having had acute hepatitis B late in pregnancy) are reported. The programme was offered in England and Wales from November 1982. Passive immunisation alone was available in the first six months of life until 1985, after which infants received passive and active immunisation from birth; in addition, some infants received passive immunisation for six months followed by a course of hepatitis B vaccine. All but a few infants received the first immunising dose within 48 hours after birth. Blood samples for analysing markers of hepatitis B virus were available at 1 year from 147 of the 223 infants given passive immunisation, 54 of the 72 given passive followed by active immunisation, and 102 of the 155 given passive and active immunisation at birth. At 1 year 11 of the 127 (9%) infants given four or more doses of specific hepatitis B immunoglobulin were positive for hepatitis B surface antigen compared with four of the 20 given three or fewer doses; 11 had levels of hepatitis B surface antibody greater than 50 IU/l. Only one of the 54 infants given passive then active immunisation was positive for hepatitis B surface antigen at 1 year and four infants had low (less than or equal to 50 IU/l) levels of hepatitis B surface antibody. Four of the 102 infants who received passive and active immunisation at birth were positive for hepatitis B surface antigen. Two had received the fill course of vaccine, whereas in the other two vaccination was incomplete or unstated. In 79 of the 89 infants who received a complete course of vaccination the level of hepatitis B surface antibody was known, and 70 had levels at 1 year greater than 100 IU/1. Reactions to immunisation were not severe at any age. The incidence of side effects was 8% for the immunoglobulin, 11% for the vaccine, and 9% when immunoglobulin and vaccine were given together. Wider collaboration in the programme is requested.