Long-term impact of infant immunization on hepatitis B prevalence: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Volume 96, Number 7, July 2018, 441-512

Long-term impact of infant immunization on hepatitis B prevalence: a systematic review and meta-analysis
– Kate Whitford, Bette Liu, Joanne Micallef, J Kevin Yin, Kristine Macartney, Pierre Van Damme & John M Kaldor
To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the long-term impact of infant vaccination on the prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection at the population level.
We searched online databases for articles reporting comparisons between population cohorts aged ≥ 15 years who were exposed or unexposed to infant HBV immunization programmes. We categorized programmes as universal or targeted to infants whose mothers were positive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). We included studies reporting prevalence of hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb), HBsAg, or both. We evaluated the quality of the study methods and estimated the relative reduction in the prevalence of infection.
Of 26 studies that met the inclusion criteria, most were from China (20 studies). The prevalence of HBV infection in unvaccinated and universally vaccinated cohorts ranged from 0.6% (116 of 20 305 people) to 16.3% (60/367) and from 0.3% (1/300) to 8.5% (73/857), respectively. Comparing cohorts with universal vaccination to those without vaccination, relative prevalences were 0.24 (95% confidence interval, CI: 0.16–0.35) for HBsAg and 0.23 (95% CI: 0.17–0.32) for HBcAb. For populations with targeted vaccination, relative prevalences were 0.32 (95% CI: 0.24–0.43) and 0.33 (95% CI: 0.23–0.45), respectively.
The residual burden of infection in cohorts offered vaccination suggests that longer-term evaluations of vaccination coverage, timeliness and other aspects of programme quality are needed. As HBV-vaccinated infant cohorts reach adulthood, ongoing analysis of prevalence in adolescents and young adults will ensure that elimination efforts are on track.