U.S. Panel Recommends New Adult Vaccine Against Hepatitis B

NEW YORK (AP) -

A federal advisory panel on Wednesday recommended a new vaccine against hepatitis B.

The vaccine, called Heplisav-B, was licensed for use in the U.S. in November and is the first new hepatitis B vaccine in 25 years.

Hepatitis B vaccines have been in childhood shots for decades. The new vaccine made by Dynavax Technologies Corp. is for adults and is given in two shots over a month. It uses an additive that boosts the body’s immune response.

The hepatitis B virus can damage the liver and is spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids. Cases have been rising, a trend linked to substance abuse. Meanwhile, researchers found older vaccines falter in diabetics and older adults.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices endorsed the vaccine during a meeting in Atlanta. The government usually adopts its recommendations.