Questions and Answers - Vaccination

Note: This page is intended for those who need "quick" answers to complex issues. For a more complete story, please refer to the other pages on this site. As I am not a physician, the recommendations I may make are not intented to be used as personal medical advice. I can only urge one, if in doubt, to discuss one's questions with a trained health care provider.

Commonly Asked Questions and their Answers

General | Transmission | Vaccination | Treatments

1. When pregnant with Hepatitis B, what are the odds of the child being born testing positive?
From what I've read, it depends at what stage of HBV infection the mother is at which determines the likelihood of the child becoming infected. It appears that those with acute infections late in pregnancy or during neonatal period tend to readily infect their infants. It is believed, however, that transmission occurs at the time of delivery in most cases. However, babies born from mothers who are anti-HBe positive and DNA negative appear to be seldom infected, and if they are, it is typically transient.

2. What does the child benefit from receiving the vaccine and the hepatitis B immune globulin at birth? Will this somehow stop the infant from being positive?
It is possible. at least, that is the theory behind vaccination. If the mother is HBV positive, instead of giving the child simply the typical HBv vaccine, HBIG (hepatitis B immunoglobulin) will be used since this would be a post-exposure situation. It appears that combining HBIG and the vaccine is quite effective in reducing the incidence of chronic HBV for infants born from HBeAg-positive mothers. HBIG was typically administered within six hours after delivery.

3. Will the disease progress or act differently because of the pregnancy?
I have not read any studies which indicate that the disease progresses any differently for the mother. However, infants who are infected with HBV at birth are at greater risk of becoming chronic carriers.

1. I received the HBV vaccine probably 15 years ago and at that time I only received two instead of three injections. Do you think I have any immunity remaining?
From what I have read, some recommend having a booster injection 5 - 7 years after the first vaccination schedule. Others say that 10 years is sufficient. It is comforting to know that patients who have been vaccinated had not contracted hepatitis B even after being followed for 10 years. It is hard to say whether one has immunity remaining or not, but a trip to the doctor and a blood test could verify whether or not your body is still producing antibodies against the HBs protein.

2. Should adults receive the injections, and if so, how often?
Adults should be vaccinated. The vaccines (Recombivax and Engerix-B) are safe to administer to most people (unless they have adverse reactions to yeast proteins). It is always better to be safe than sorry. (See Prevention)

3. Do most pediatricians promote HBV injections by the time children are 10-11? Should they?
I do not know about "most" pediatricians. However, I have read studies on children being immunized against the hepatitis B virus. If you fear your children are at righer risk, it may be wise to get them vaccinated. Typically, the dose of antigen used for children is half that of the dose used for adults.

- Copyright © Robert G. 1997-2000 -

General InformationMolecular VirologyOther InformationQuestions & AnswersTerms & JargonRelated Links