Hepatitis B Virus Vaccination and Enhancing Immunogenicity

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William Schaffner, MD, is the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and is a professor of preventive medicine in the Department of Health Policy and a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.



Jessica Bard: Hello, everyone and welcome to another installment of Podcast360, your go-to resource for medical news and clinical updates. I'm your moderator, Jessica Bard, with Consultant360 Specialty Network.

The Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research has brought together infectious disease researchers and public health experts from around the world for more than 20 years. It's sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

The NFID Medical Director, Dr William Schaffner is here to speak with us about some of the most timely topics presented at the 2021 virtual Annual Conference on vaccinology research. Thank you for joining us today, Dr Schaffner, a crucial need exists with current hepatitis B virus vaccination strategies for enhancing immunogenicity in older adults and those with comorbidities.

How does immunogenicity and safety in a three antigen hepatitis B vaccine compare to a standard regimen of a single antigen hepatitis B vaccine in a high risk population?

Dr William Schaffner: Hepatitis B is an infection that actually has increased recently in the United States. This has probably been fueled by the opioid epidemic. As we know, we are vaccinating children up to their age 19, up to their 19th birthday against hepatitis B and that has almost eliminated hepatitis B infection in youngsters.

Now they're growing up, but there are many young and middle aged adults who grew up before we started to vaccinate young children and so we need to vaccinate them. The currently available traditional three dose hepatitis B vaccine is very effective in children.

As it gets into adults, it's very good, mind you, but it's not as good in certain high risk populations. New hepatitis B vaccines are being studied. This is one, this is a three antigen hepatitis B vaccine. This was a double blind study, comparing it to one of the traditional three dose vaccines.

It showed very nicely that in patients who were older who had diabetes, who were obese, clearly this three dose vaccine worked as well or even better than did the traditional single antigen vaccine. Not only did it work better in producing higher antibody levels, it was impressive that the antibody rose more rapidly so you got more rapid protection.

This is an investigational vaccine. It's not yet licensed in the United States, but should it be licensed, it would be a very nice addition to the resources we have. I would mention to the listener that we have already a licensed two‑dose hepatitis B vaccine that has characteristics very similar to this three antigen hepatitis B vaccine.

As we're trying to combat hepatitis B infection in our general population, we already have one and may have another superior vaccine that we can use.

Jessica: Thank you very much for your time today, Dr Schaffner, I enjoyed speaking with you.

Dr Schaffner: My great pleasure. Just remember my favorite saying, "When in doubt, vaccinate."