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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology
Volume 19, Issue 2, Pages 197-202

Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B Vaccination Responses in Persons with Chronic Hepatitis C Infections: A Review of the Evidence and Current Recommendations

Jane A Buxton1,2 and Jin Hee Kim1

1BC Centre for Disease Control, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Received 13 August 2007; Accepted 26 November 2007

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In persons with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, superinfection by hepatitis A virus (HAV) or hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause serious complications, including fulminating hepatitis or increased severity of hepatitis. Therefore, it is important to adequately protect persons with chronic HCV infections by immunization. Suboptimal response to vaccines has been reported in patients with chronic liver disease. The present article reviews HAV and HBV vaccine responses reported in the literature when administered to individuals with chronic HCV infection, and reviews current national and international recommendations.

RESULTS: Persons with chronic HCV respond well to HAV vaccine, but studies exploring HBV vaccine efficacy in this population have equivocal results. Vaccine schedules and participant characteristics differ among studies, and most do not adjust for confounders. Some studies found no difference in HBV vaccine response between patients with chronic HCV and controls. However, HBV vaccine response was generally reduced in those with cirrhosis and HCV genotype 1. Organizations recommend HAV and HBV vaccines for persons with chronic HCV, but do not suggest alterations in schedule or dose.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Because HAV vaccine response is good and routine laboratory testing may not detect lower levels of vaccine-induced anti-HAV, the standard HAV vaccine schedule is recommended without postimmunization testing. HBV vaccine should be administered early in the course of chronic HCV infection because response may be lower in patients with cirrhosis. Reflex testing of anti-HCV reactive sera for anti-HAV and hepatitis B surface antibody can facilitate appropriate follow-up and timely immunization. Determination of postimmunization hepatitis B surface antibody, especially in patients with cirrhosis or genotype 1, will allow HBV vaccine boosters to be offered.