The Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales, AZ has recently become the first Arizona hospital to be added to the Hepatitis B Birth Dose Honor Roll of the Immunization Action Coalition.  The Honor Roll recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that have attained high coverage rates for administering hepatitis B vaccine at birth.  Ninety-eight percent of infants born at Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital from 7/1/2015 to 6/30/2016 received a dose of hepatitis B vaccine before hospital discharge.

Infants born to mothers who are infected with hepatitis B virus have up to a 90% risk of developing a life-long infection with hepatitis B virus.  Chronic hepatitis B virus infection often leads to liver cancer and liver failure.  Fortunately, giving both hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours after birth to infants born to mothers who are infected with hepatitis B virus will prevent the infant from getting infected in 85%-95% of instances.

Although most pregnant women have a negative test for hepatitis B virus infection, it is still important to give their infants a three dose series of hepatitis B vaccine.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just recommended that the first hepatitis B vaccine dose being given within 24 hours after birth to all infants whose mother is not infected with hepatitis B virus.  This protects the infant in case the mother became infected after testing, in case there was a problem with the mother’s laboratory test or the interpretation of her laboratory test, or in case the infant was inadvertently exposed after birth to someone with hepatitis B virus infection.

ADHS encourages all Arizona hospitals and birthing centers to support policies that ensure that all infants rapidly receive their birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine according to updated recommendations of the CDC.