There are about 15 different types of Hepatitis B vaccines available worldwide. (Some adult vaccines include 'Hepatitis A' in them as well). The first Hepatitis B vaccine was produced in 1981. It was derived from donated human blood plasma (known as 'Plasma-Derived Vaccine' or PDV). In 1986 a 'yeast derived' vaccine (YDV) was developed.
The most common Hepatitis B vaccines (HBV) used for newborn babies in Australia are H-B-Vax II and Energix B. These are both 'yeast derived' and consist of a suspension of Hepatitis B surface antigen (10 micrograms per ml for H-B-Vax II and 20 micrograms per ml for Energix B), absorbed into aluminium hydroxide. These are known as 'monovalent' vaccines and are the type given as the first vaccination to newborn babies soon after (or in the days following) the birth.
There are now 'multivalent' vaccines available in Australia, which mix the hepatitis B vaccine with the other vaccines that are routinely offered as part of the Australian Immunisation Schedule. These vaccines are designed to reduce the amount of injections that need to be administered to the baby with the subsequent 'booster Hepatitis B vaccines', as they are timed to coincide with the other routine 'immunisations'.
The subsequent vaccines offered are usually:
- DTPa-HepB. This contains diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (or 'Whooping Cough') as well as the Hepatitis B vaccine.
- Hib (PRP-OMP)- HepB. This contains Haemophilus influenzae type B and the Hepatitis B vaccine.
The type offered will depend on what Australian state you live in and the timing of the subsequent vaccines. This is discussed later in when is hepatitis B given?
Vaccination against Hepatitis B does not guarantee immunity or protection against the virus. Studies looking at how effective the Hepatitis B vaccine is at protecting babies from the virus are variable. So far they indicate that they are capable of providing adequate immunisation for up to 66% to 100% of babies. Both the H-B-Vax II and Energix B are believed to have similar levels of effectiveness.
The administration of the Hepatitis B Immunoglobulin (HBIG) in combination with the Hep B vaccine (HBV) - which is offered to babies of mothers who are Hepatitis B 'positive'- tend to provide greater levels of protection for babies (usually over 90%).
Long term effectiveness of the full course of the Hepatitis B vaccination schedule (HBV) is unclear. At this stage it is believed that if immunisation is achieved, it should protect the person for up to 5 to 7 years.
Last revised: Thursday, 17 January 2013
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.