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Vaccinations And Your Baby: Hepatitis B

Apr 25, 2008
Vaccinations are a miracle of modern science. Thanks to these injections, diseases that used to be deadly in the past have almost completely disappeared today. Upon the birth of a new baby, most hospitals give the new parents a booklet that contains a vaccination schedule that the doctor can initial as each shot is given. Looking at the list of the various vaccinations, many new parents do not understand what the vaccinations are for. To understand the necessity for a vaccination, you must first understand the disease that it fends off.

The first vaccination that your new baby should receive is labeled HepB. This abbreviation stands for Hepatitis B, a serious virus that attacks the liver. This disease can result in lifelong liver infections, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure, and death. The virus is passed when the blood of an infected person enters the blood of a person who is not infected. The disease can be transmitted from an infected mother to her infant during childbirth. It is also commonly found in the infants of immigrants who came from areas that have high rates of Hepatitis B.

Most obstetricians recommend that expectant mothers should have a Hepatitis B test to determine if they have the disease, as many infected people are not aware that they have the virus. The result of this test can determine when your baby will need his first vaccination of HepB. For infants that mothers have tested positive or the test results were inconclusive, the vaccination is given within twelve hours of the child's birth. In the case of the mother testing negative for Hepatitis B, the doctor may delay giving the shot for several days if there is a more pressing medical problem that needs to be addressed. Because this disease is highly contagious, the HepB vaccine is mandatory, even though the mother tests negative and is definitely not infected.

After the initial dose of HepB, several more doses will be needed to protect your baby to the fullest. The second dose should be given at the age of one to two months. There is a monovalent HepB vaccine and a combination vaccine that contains HepB. Depending on which type your baby has received will affect his vaccination schedule. If he was given the monovalent HepB during his two month vaccination, your baby will not need a repeat dose at four months of age. If the combination vaccine was used, your baby will need another vaccine at four months. The final dose of HepB can be given anytime after twenty-four weeks (approximately 6 months in age). Infants born to infected mothers should be tested after their third dose of the vaccine to determine if any further treatment is needed.

Hepatitis B is a serious and deadly disease. Again, many infected people are not even aware that they have this disease. By having your new baby vaccinated with the HepB shot, you can protect him in case he would come in contact with an infected individual.
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