The first few hours of baby’s life mark more than his first cry, first bath, and first look at mommy — it also is the perfect time for his first vaccination. There is a compelling reason to ensure baby gets this crucial immunization as soon as possible.
The Hepatitis B Vaccine: A Lifesaving Precaution
Hepatitis B is a contagious disease that may lead to scarring of the liver(cirrhosis). Cirrhosis may severely compromise the liver’s ability to perform thousands of vitally important body functions. Ultimately, Hepatitis B cal also cause cancer of the liver. The Hepatitis B virus is found mainly in blood and bodily fluids like saliva. Human bites, needle sticks, or sharing of razors or toothbrushes with an infected person can transmit the virus. Many people infected with the virus may not be aware of it, and can unknowingly pass the disease to others.
The Philippines currently has one of the highest carrier rates in the world for the Hepatitis B virus at 16 percent, which rose from 12 percent in the 1980s (Philippine Society of Gastroenterology and the Philippine Cancer Society). This makes the country a highly endemic area for the disease, as an estimated 13 million Filipinos are carriers of the Hepatitis B virus.
Why Hepatitis B Puts Babies And Children At Risk
Infants and small children are most vulnerable when it comes to contagious diseases of any kind. Playing with other children who have nosebleeds, scratches or any open sores; sharing utensils or towels, injuries or even biting that sometimes happens during fights or rough play could put children at risk of contracting and spreading Hepatitis B.
Even at home, a young child may be exposed to adult caregivers who are carriers of the Hepatitis B virus but do not know it because they have not been tested and do not exhibit any symptoms. This is why it is of extreme importance not only to vaccinate against the disease, but to do it as early as possible.
The Birth Dose Provides The Best Protection
The Department of Health recommends the Hepatitis B vaccination be given to all infants within 24 hours of birth.
The following are some of the ways infants who are not vaccinated at birth can potentially become infected:
Because of these factors, all newborns (no exceptions) are recommended to receive the “birth dose” vaccine as soon as possible after birth, and before leaving the hospital.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), universal infant immunization is by far the most effective preventive measure against Hepatitis B-induced diseases. The Hepatitis B vaccine creates lifelong immunity.
The Simple Formula For Successful Immunization
With the simple act of administering a vaccine, babies today are granted protection against a variety of contagious, dangerous diseases which used to pose life-threatening, widespread epidemics in olden times.
Timely vaccination is one of the most important things for a parent to do to protect the health of their children. Vaccine delays put children at unnecessary risk. The first two years of life are when children are most at risk for many serious, vaccine-preventable diseases.
For full protection against the Hepatitis B virus, three injections are required: the first dose within 24 hours of birth, the second dose one month after the birth dose and the third dose 6 months after the birth dose.
Ask your health care provider for the right monovalent Hepatitis B vaccine and pentavalent combination vaccine that is suited best for your baby’s protection.
Taking this small precaution now equals invaluable payback in terms your baby’s future health and happiness.