Hepatitis B vaccine is used to prevent hepatitis B, and the serious consequences of hepatitis B infection, including liver cancer and cirrhosis.
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Following the primary course of 3 vaccinations, a blood test may be taken after an interval of 1–4 months to establish if there has been an adequate response, which is defined as an anti-hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-Hbs) antibody level above 100 mIU/ml. Such a full response occurs in about 85-90% of individuals.
An antibody level between 10 and 100 mIU/ml is considered a poor response, and these people should receive a single booster vaccination at this time, but do not need further retesting.
People who fail to respond (anti-Hbs antibody level below 10 mIU/ml) should be tested to exclude current or past Hepatitis B infection, and given a repeat course of 3 vaccinations, followed by further retesting 1–4 months after the second course. Those who still do not respond to a second course of vaccination may respond to a high dose vaccine or to a double dose of a combined Hepatitis A and B vaccine. Those who still fail to respond will require hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) if later exposed to the hepatitis B virus.