Why Vaccinate Your Newborn Against Hepatitis B?

Many parents ask why they should vaccinate their newborn baby against Hepatitis B before they leave the hospital. Here are some frequently asked questions:

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What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is caused by a virus. It is spread the same way as HIV: through sex, blood and even birth if the mother has the virus. Hepatitis B is contagious and can cause liver damage and liver cancer later in life. It is much more contagious than HIV and Hepatitis C. Some people who have Hepatitis B can spread it even though they don't have any symptoms. There is no cure for Hepatitis B.

Why vaccinate my newborn baby?

The younger you are when you get the virus, the more likely you are to become a life-long carrier, to spread the disease yourself, and to develop liver disease as an adult. The vaccine gives your baby his or her first protection against liver disease and cancer, that is why it is important to vaccinate babies as soon as possible.

A baby should be vaccinated soon after birth to protect him or her, especially if the mother or someone who cares for the baby is infected with Hepatitis B. Babies are not born with their own protection from the virus, but the vaccine can offer protection and is very effective.

Are there side effects?

The shot hurts a little bit, but not for long. There are almost no reported side effects from the vaccine.

How many shots will my baby receive?

Three. The first shot will be administered before the baby leaves the hospital or birth center. The second shot will be due at the baby's two month check-up, and the last will occur when the baby is six months old.

How can Lane County Public Health help?

Lane County Public Health offers case management for pregnant women who test positive for Hepatitis B during their pregnancy, as well as education for providers and the community about perinatal transmission of Hepatitis B.

Our case management program for pregnant women with Hepatitis B includes:
  1. Interviewing the pregnant woman to cover the importance of vaccination and disease transmission, and to identify any household and sexual partners that may need testing and/or vaccination.
  2. Notifying the hospital or birth center of an approaching delivery date of a patient with Hepatitis B, to ensure they are prepared to vaccinate the baby within 12 hours of birth.
  3. Following the child to ensure that the entire series of Hepatitis B vaccines are given and that all blood tests are completed to protect the child against the virus.

LCPH services are available regardless of age, race, color, sex, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status. LCPH facilities are wheelchair accessible. LCPH materials are available upon request in alternative formats such as: large print, Braille and other languages.  This health center receives HHS funding and has federal Public Health Service deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals.

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