Hepatitis A Vaccine Good for Postexposure Prophylaxis

Immune globulin and vaccine confer similar level of protection

THURSDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- After exposure to hepatitis A, both immune globulin and vaccination confer good levels of protection against infection, but vaccination also offers long-term protection, according to the results of a study published in the Oct. 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

John C. Victor, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues conducted a study of 1,090 people (average age 12 years) who were susceptible to hepatitis A and had been exposed to infected patients within the previous two weeks. The participants were randomized to receive one dose of immune globulin (522 subjects) or one dose of hepatitis A vaccine (568 subjects).

Among the vaccinated group, 25 (4.4 percent) became infected with hepatitis A, versus 17 (3.3 percent) of those who had received immune globulin. Although there was better protection from immune globulin, the differential was never greater than 1.5 percent, the authors write.

"By providing a scientific context in which to re-evaluate the relative benefits of immune globulin and vaccine, our study informed policy decisions regarding hepatitis A vaccine," the authors conclude.

Merck donated the hepatitis vaccine, VAQTA, and provided funds for purchase of immune globulin.

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