Approval to changes of current recommendations for hepatitis B vaccinations for children were voted on by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

The 14-member panel voted to approve changes to existing language, which states that infants who are HBsAg negative with anti-HBs levels of less than 10 mIU/mL should be revaccinated with a second three-dose series and retested within 2 months of the series’ final dose. The approved proposal will change that language to state that these infants should receive only one dose, not the entire series of three. However, if anti-HBs levels remain lower than 10 mIU/mL after the one dose, the remaining two vaccinations should be administered, along with testing within 2 months of the final dose.

“Available data do not suggest a benefit from administering additional HepB vaccine doses to infants who have not attained anti-HBs [of at least] 10 [mIU/mL] following receipt of two complete [three-dose] HepB vaccine series,” explained Noele P. Nelson, MD , of Georgetown University in Washington and the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

The other change, a relatively minor one, affects the wording of the recommendations regarding the Vaccines for Children program. In addition to incorporating a language change similar to the aforementioned one – the only difference being that now, the recommendations will explicitly mention postvaccination serologic testing within 2 months of series completion – under the minimum dosing intervals for interrupted vaccination schedules, the second bullet has been modified to say “final dose” instead of “third dose,” as it currently does.

“[This is] to address potential confusion related to different schedules when single-antigen or combination vaccines are used,” explained Jeanne Santoli, MD , of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, adding that “the eligible groups are unchanged, schedule and intervals are unchanged, [so] the purpose is to clarify related to dosing intervals and revaccination.”

Both votes were approved of nearly unanimously, with 13 committee members voting to approve while 1 – José R. Romero, MD , who holds the Horace C. Cabe Endowed Chair in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock – abstained because of potential conflicts of interest.

Approval by ACIP does not automatically mean that these changes will go into effect; they must first be approved by CDC director Tom Frieden, MD. However, the CDC generally follows ACIP guidance.


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