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Hepatitis B vaccine is prepared in one of two ways: by concentrating and inactivating infectious particles in the circulating blood of persons who are hepatitis B carriers, or by using recombinant-DNA technology to artificially produce the antigen in yeast cells. In the United States, only the recombinant-DNA vaccine is currently available. In both processes, the result is a highly purified preparation that induces protection in 90 percent or more of persons who receive three injections, the second following the first by at least one month and the third at least two months after the second. Booster doses are not recommended. Since infection in the newborn period is associated with the highest risk of lifelong carriage of hepatitis B virus and death resulting from liver cirrhosis or cancer, the first dose is commonly given at birth. In the United States and most other countries, universal vaccination of infants with hepatitis B vaccine is recommended. Adolescents and adults who are at increased risk of hepatitis B infection as a result of lifestyle (e.g., injection drug use) or occupation(e.g., health care workers) should also receive the vaccine. No serious adverse effects have been shown to be caused by the vaccine, although the possibility has been raised of an association with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) at a very low rate (approximately 1/200,000 vaccinees).
ALAN R. HINMAN
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1991). "Hepatitis B Virus: A Comprehensive Strategy for Eliminating Transmission in the United States Through Universal Childhood Vaccination: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 40:1–25.
Author Info: ALAN R. HINMAN, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York, Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health, 2002This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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