Vaccine against hepatitis B. Eight years of experience.

R T Marinho, M Pedro, F Ramalho, J Velosa, M C De Moura


Hepatitis B virus infection is one of the world's major health problems and health care workers are especially at risk, leading to the need for a high priority vaccination program. Such a program was begun in 1989 in S. Maria Hospital and included all hospital personnel and students of the Faculty of Medicine. The screening included 2360 health care workers and 1153 students. Fifty-five percent of hospital health care workers and 41% of the students participated in the vaccination program. The overall prevalence of hepatitis B markers was 16.8%, for hospital personnel, the chronic carrier being 0.95%, and for the students, 5.5% and 0.3% respectively. The highest prevalence was observed in the Biochemical Laboratory--64% (7/11), Surgery--42% (13/31), Pneumology--39% (9/23), Emergency Department--29% (7/24), Hematology Laboratory--29% (7/24) and Orthopedics--29% (10/35). The prevalence was also higher in students in the last three years of Medical School compared to those in the first three years, 12.2% vs 7.2%, p = NS. Local pain has been the most frequent complaint in 8.6% of vaccinees. The control with the quantification of anti-HBs in the 7th month has shown a serological efficacy of about 95%. A non-response was observed in male workers, 13% compared to 5% for females, p < 0.05. Older employees also showed higher non-response: the average age of workers with anti-HBs of 0 U/L was 52.3 years, and those with anti-HBs of more than 100 U/L was 38.4 years, p < 0.02. Hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective preventative measure that has been widely used for years. Our study shows the need for a more aggressive approach to the vaccination of health care workers because a significant percentage of them in our country are not protected.

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