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Hepatitis B vaccination is effective for up to 15 years, particularly if given to patients over four years old, a new study suggests.

US researchers monitored antibodies against hepatitis B in 1,578 patients who received a full course of vaccine between 1981 and 1982.

Antibody levels fell during the follow-up period, but 84 per cent of patients retained sufficient antibodies for protection 15 years after vaccination.

Antibody levels fell most sharply in patients who were under four years old when they were vaccinated.

Previous studies had been unable to clarify whether protection from hepatitis B vaccination lasted beyond 10 years.

The researchers, from the US Centers for Disease control and Prevention, said the results of the study would

be important in determining policies on vaccine boosters.

UK policy recommends vaccinating high-risk groups.

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