Although fewer doses are needed with HEPLISAV-B, it displays similar immunogenicity to similar vaccines (90.0%-100% vs. 70.5%-90.2%). It is also more effective, compared with similar vaccines in those with type II diabetes (90.0% vs. 65.1%) and chronic kidney disease (89.9% vs. 81.1%).
HEPLISAV-B uses an adjuvant, but it appears to be safe and well tolerated. The rate of mild (45.6% vs. 45.7%) and serious (5.4% vs. 6.3%) reactions were similar among HEPLISAV-B and comparable vaccines, although cardiovascular events were more common with this vaccine than with others (0.27% vs. 0.14%).
Dr. Stephens, who supported the recommendation of HEPLISAV-B, voiced reservations about these findings. “I am concerned about the myocardial infarction signal and the use of this new adjuvant and certainly urge us to look at the postmarketing data carefully.”
While the reported incidence rate of acute HBV cases consistently fell during 2000-2015, it began to rise again at the end of 2015. This is linked with concomitant rise in injection drug use, which also is a risk factor in transmitting HBV. Over the same period, the incidence of HBV was highest in people aged 30-49 years. With these factors to consider, the vote by ACIP for HEPLISAV-B as a recommended vaccine is timely and may help reduce HBV infections in adults.