Don’t be surprised if medical staff gives your baby his first shot before he leaves the hospital.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is calling on healthcare providers to ensure all healthy newborns receive a hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth.
Giving babies a hepatitis B shot shortly after birth is nothing new. However, the AAP’s previous guidelines allowed the vaccine to be delayed until the baby’s first pediatric checkup. Under the new policy, all babies weighing at least 4 lbs. 6 oz at birth should be given the vaccine within 24 hours to ensure maximum effectiveness, the policy states. Those weighing less should receive the vaccine before leaving the hospital or by 1 month old, whichever comes first, the AAP said.
Babies whose moms have tested positive for hepatitis B should be vaccinated on the first day of life regardless of weight, according to the guidelines.
Hepatitis B is a highly contagious viral infection that attacks the liver and can lead to lifelong liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer and even death. Adults can contract the disease through unsafe sex or needle sharing. Babies can get it if their mom is infected with hepatitis B at birth, or if they come into close contact with someone else infected with the virus.
The hepatitis B vaccine is considered safe for newborns and severe allergic reactions are rare. The shot given at birth is the first of three recommended doses. Your baby should receive another hepatitis B shot between 1 and 2 months old, and between 6 and 18 months old.
BabyCenter’s Immunization Scheduler can help you track your child’s immunizations.
What do you think of this vaccine policy change?