(HealthDay News) – Health care personnel should be vaccinated against hepatitis B virus (HBV) if they anticipate exposure to blood or body fluids, and receive serologic testing to assess for antibody against the virus, according to updated guidelines published in the Dec. 20 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

As an update to previous guidelines in 2011 by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Sarah Schillie, MD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues note that, although the rate of acute HBV infection declined through 2011, health care personnel are still at risk of acquiring HBV from patients with chronic infection.

The committee recommends hepatitis B vaccination for unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated health care personnel who anticipate exposure to blood or body fluids, as well as post-vaccination serologic testing for antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen. Many health care personnel were vaccinated as infants or adolescents, and the committee notes that some institutions assess for antibody at hire or matriculation.

“This report emphasizes the importance of administering hepatitis B vaccination for all health care personnel, provides explicit guidance for evaluating hepatitis B protection among previously vaccinated health care personnel (particularly those who were vaccinated in infancy or adolescence), and clarifies recommendations for post-exposure management of health care personnel exposed to blood or body fluids,” Schillie and colleagues write.

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