Control of hepatitis A has been an important concern for US military forces in war and peace. Immune serum globulin, although effective, is exceedingly cumbersome to use. The prevalence of antibody against hepatitis A is decreasing in young American soldiers, putting them at risk of hepatitis A during deployment. The US Army has been an active participant in development of hepatitis A vaccine. The first successful cell-culture-derived, formalin-inactivated hepatitis A vaccine was developed at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. This prototype vaccine was shown, in 1986, to be safe and immunogenic for humans. Since then we have evaluated the following issues related to the use of inactivated hepatitis A vaccines in military populations. Immunogenicity of vaccine derived from the CLF and HM175 strains; immunogenicity of hepatitis A vaccine given by jet injector; immunogenicity of hepatitis A vaccine when given with hepatitis B vaccine; immunogenicity when given in shortened schedules; safety and immunogenicity in Thai children; and efficacy under field conditions in the tropics. The hepatitis A vaccines which we tested are safe and highly immunogenic. Immunization by jet gun confers immunity equivalent to immunization by needle. Hepatitis A vaccine is equally potent when given with hepatitis B vaccine. Data on rapid immunization schedules and efficacy are under evaluation. We conclude that hepatitis A vaccine is a major improvement in our ability to prevent hepatitis A in soldiers.
- inactivated vaccine
- infectious hepatitis