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Reuters Health Information (2008-08-01): Low hepatitis B vaccination rates seen in US newborns

Public Health

Low hepatitis B vaccination rates seen in US newborns

Last Updated: 2008-08-01 13:39:17 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The results of a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that only about 50% of newborns receive a dose of hepatitis B vaccine before hospital discharge.

In 1991, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that all neonates receive the first dose of the vaccine before leaving the hospital or at age 1 to 2 months. In 2002, however, this recommendation was changed to indicate a preference for vaccination prior to hospital discharge. Finally, in 2005, the guidelines were again revised to recommend pre-discharge vaccination for all medically stable infants weighing at least 2000 g.

The present findings are based on an analysis of survey data obtained after the 2002 guidelines were implemented but before the 2005 ones were in place.

Overall, 42.8% of neonates received the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine by age 1 day and 50.1% had received it by age 3 days, CDC researchers said in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for August 1.

Wide variations in vaccine coverage were seen between cities and states. Detroit, Michigan had the highest coverage at 77.5%, while Fresno County, California had the lowest-8.2%.

"To comply with ACIP recommendations and increase coverage, delivery hospitals should provide hepatitis B vaccination of newborns as a standard of care," the report emphasizes.

Mor Mortal Wkly Rep CDC Surveill Summ 2008;57:825-828.

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