The AAFP, along with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, has endorsed a "birth dose" initiative(www.immunize.org) from the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) that recommends newborns be given the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine before discharge from U.S. hospitals and birth centers.
This digitally colorized transmission electron micrograph shows the presence of hepatitis B virions, or "Dane particles."
The initiative is summarized in a new guidebook(www.immunize.org) that defines best practices for newborn hepatitis B immunization.
According to the IAC announcement, the birth dose of the vaccine represents a first step in creating "a vaccine safety net that will protect infants from hepatitis B infection and from the development of chronic hepatitis B infection if acquired through contact with an infected mother, household member or caregiver."
Data from the 2011 National Immunization Survey(www.cdc.gov) (NIS) show that nearly one in three newborns leaves the hospital without receiving the hepatitis B vaccine despite recommendations to the contrary. The NIS data also reveal variability in administration(www.cdc.gov) of the birth dose from state to state.
This variability indicates that all states need to improve use of the hepatitis B vaccine birth dose to enhance newborn protection, says the IAC. The guidebook is intended to provide resource materials to hospitals that do not already have a written policy to implement hepatitis B prevention protocols that will ensure all newborns receive a birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine.
"These resources can help your hospital establish policies, procedures and standardized admission orders to include hepatitis B vaccine as part of the medical management for all newborns delivered in the hospital," says the IAC in its announcement. "The resources include background information about perinatal hepatitis B transmission and educational materials for parents and staff."