, Volume 21, Issue 12, pp 893-899
Date: 08 Dec 2006

Long-term protective effect of post-exposure Havrix TM administration during viral hepatitis Type A outbreaks

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Administration of human normal immunoglobulin (HNIG) post-exposure has been routinely used in Slovakia for outbreak control of hepatitis A, but requires deep intramuscular injection, provides only short-lived protection and is a human blood product. The protective effect of post-exposure administration of an inactivated hepatitis A vaccine was evaluated during 10 outbreaks in Slovakia. Direct contacts of confirmed hepatitis A cases received either: a single dose of hepatitis A vaccine (n = 2171) or immunoglobulin (HNIG, n = 3837). In the HNIG group the number of hepatitis A confirmed cases dropped within the first 7 weeks, however the decrease was not as rapid or as marked as that observed in the vaccinated group where the number of hepatitis A cases dropped within the first 4 weeks after vaccination. Among contacts, 67 cases of hepatitis A were detected during the maximum incubation period of 45 days: 16 cases (0.7%) in the vaccine group and 51 cases (1.3%) in the HNIG group (p  <  0.05). After two and three years respectively, 50 and 39 volunteers who had previously received one dose of hepatitis A vaccine received a booster dose and anti-HAV antibodies were measured. Differences in anti-HAV antibody GMCs before and after the booster were statistically significant. The longer time interval (3 years instead of 2) between primary vaccination and booster administration did not seem to impact the magnitude of the booster response. The results of this study show that active post-exposure immunisation with only one dose of inactivated vaccine confers high and long-term protection and effectively controls viral hepatitis A outbreaks.