Re: infant vaccines
Hepatitis B vaccine is given as a series of three injections (shots). The first shot is given to infants shortly after birth. All 3 doses are necessary for the most effective and longest lasting immunity.
If the mother of the infant carries HBV in her blood, the infant needs to receive the first shot within 12 hours after birth. Hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) is also given to the baby at that time. The next two shots are given at 2 months of age and then at 6 months of age.
If the mother of the infant does not have evidence of HBV in her blood, the infant may receive the shot anytime prior to leaving the hospital or it may be deferred until the 4 or 8 week visit to the primary care provider. If given shortly after birth, the second shot is given at 1 to 2 months and the third at 6 months. For infants who do not receive the first shot until 4 to 8 weeks, the second shot is given at 4 months and the third at 6 to 18 months. In either instance, the 2nd and 3rd shots are given in conjunction with other routine childhood immunizations.
Most infants who receive the HBV vaccine experience no associated problems. Others may have minor problems, such as soreness and redness at the injection site or a mild fever. Serious problems associated with receiving the immunization are rare and are mainly related to allergic reactions to a component of the vaccine.
Babies who receive the HBV immunization series will be protected from contracting Hepatitis B infection not only throughout childhood, when the risk of lifelong infection and carrier states is the highest, but also through their adult years. Eliminating the risk of HBV infections also decreases the risks for cirrhosis of the liver, chronic liver disease, and liver cancer. As more people become immune to HBV infection through immunization of infants, the goal of eliminating HBV infection in the United States may be realized.