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What is the hepatitis B vaccination regimen in chronic kidney disease?

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For patients age 16 and older with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD), including those undergoing hemodialysis, we recommend a higher dose of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine, more doses, or both. Vaccination with a higher dose may improve the immune response. The hepatitis B surface antibody (anti-HBs) titer should be monitored 1 to 2 months after completion of the vaccination schedule and annually thereafter, with a target titer of 10 IU/mL or greater. For patients who do not develop a protective antibody titer after completing the initial vaccination schedule, the vaccination schedule should be repeated.


Recommendation 1

Give higher vaccine doses, increase the number of doses, or both.

Recommended vaccination regimens for hepatitis B virus in chronic kidney disease
Rationale. Patients with CKD, especially those on hemodialysis, are in an immunocompromised state and thus are less likely to achieve protective anti-HBs levels after vaccination with standard dosages. 1–3 Two main vaccine formulations are available ( Table 1 ). Recombivax-HB contains 40 µg/mL and is given in a 3-dose schedule at 0, 1, and 6 months. Engerix-B contains a standard dose of 20 µg/mL and should be given in a 4-dose schedule at double the standard dose (ie, a total of 40 µg/mL). Both regimens are recommended in the 2017 update of the United States Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations for adult immunization schedule. 4

Recommendation 2

A 4-dose regimen may provide a better antibody response than a 3-dose regimen. (Note: This recommendation applies only to Engerix-B; 4 doses of Recombivax-HB would be an off-label use.)

Rationale. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that after completion of a 3-dose vaccination schedule, the median proportion of patients developing a protective antibody response was 64% (range 34%–88%) vs a median of 86% (range 40%–98%) after a 4-dose schedule. 3

Lacson et al 5 compared antibody response rates after 3 doses of Recombivax-HB and after 4 doses of Engerix-B and found a better response rate with the 4-dose schedule. The rate of persistent protective anti-HBs titer after 1 year was 77% for Engerix-B vs 53% for Recombivax-HB.

Agarwal et al 6 evaluated response rates in patients who had mild CKD (serum creatinine levels 1.5–3.0 mg/dL), moderate CKD (creatinine 3.0–6.0 mg/dL), and severe CKD (creatinine > 6.0 mg/dL). The seroconversion rates after 3 doses of 40-μg HBV vaccine were 87.5% in those with mild CKD, 66.6% in those with moderate CKD, and 35.7% in those with severe disease. After a fourth dose, rates improved significantly to 100%, 77%, and 36.4%, respectively.

Recommendation 3

In patients with CKD, vaccination should be done early, before they become dependent on hemodialysis.

Rationale. Patients with advanced CKD may have a lower seroconversion rate. Fraser et al 7 found that after a 4-dose series, the seroprotection rate in adult prehemodialysis patients with serum creatinine levels of 4 mg/dL or less was 86%, compared with 37% in patients with serum creatinine levels above 4 mg/dL, of whom 88% were on hemodialysis. 7

In a 2003 prospective cohort study by DaRoza et al, 8 patients with higher levels of kidney function were more likely to respond to HBV vaccination, and the level of kidney function was found to be an independent predictor of seroconversion. 8

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