METHODS: Consecutive infants born between March 2002 and April 2010 who received three doses of hepatitis B vaccine at a community clinic in Malaysia were enrolled in the study. Screening for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibody against HBsAg (anti-HBs) was performed after the completion of primary immunisation, at approximately one year of age.
RESULTS: A total of 572 infants (median age 9.3 ± 2.7 months; range 6.3-48 months) were screened for immune response to hepatitis B vaccination - 553 (96.7%) infants had adequate levels of anti-HBs (≥ 10 IU/L). Of the 440 mothers whose HBsAg status was known, 14 (3.2%) were positive for HBsAg. None of the 14 infants who were born to HBsAg-positive mothers were positive for HBsAg, and all but one infant had anti-HBs level ≥ 10 IU/L. Gender, gestational age and maternal HBsAg status were not found to significantly affect the subsequent immune response in infants following vaccination.
CONCLUSION: The proportion of Malaysian mothers who are positive for HBsAg remains high. The three-shot hepatitis B vaccine, given as part of universal vaccination against hepatitis B, provides adequate anti-HBs in the vast majority of infants in a community setting in Malaysia.