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  • Hepatitis B
  • For Healthcare Personnel

If an employee does not respond to hepatitis B vaccination (employee has had two full HepB series), do they need to be removed from activities that expose them to bloodborne pathogens? Does the employer have a responsibility in this area beyond providing vaccine?

No. There are no regulations that require removal from job situations where exposure to bloodborne pathogens could occur; this is an individual policy decision within the organization. OSHA regulations require that employees in jobs where there is a reasonable risk of exposure to blood be offered HepB vaccine. In addition, the regulation states that adequate personal protective equipment be provided and that standard precautions be followed. Check your state OSHA regulations regarding additional requirements. If there are no state OSHA regulations, federal OSHA regulations should be followed. Adequate documentation should be placed in the employee record regarding non-response to vaccination. HCP who do not respond to vaccination should be tested for HBsAg and total anti-HBc to determine if they have chronic HBV infection. If the HBsAg and total anti-HBc tests are positive, HCP should receive appropriate counseling for preventing transmission to others as well as referral for ongoing care to a specialist experienced in the medical management of chronic HBV infection. People who are HBsAg-positive and who perform exposure-prone procedures should seek counsel from a review panel comprised of experts with a balanced perspective (for example, infectious disease specialists and their personal physician[s]) regarding the procedures that they can perform safely. They should not be excluded from work. People who test negative for HBsAg should be considered susceptible to HBV infection and should be counseled about precautions to prevent HBV infection and the need to obtain HBIG prophylaxis for any known or likely exposure to HBsAg-positive blood (see Table).

Last reviewed: July 21, 2023

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