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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
February 27, 2018

Hepatitis B Recommendations Updated

JAMA. 2018;319(8):762. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.0754

Healthy infants should be vaccinated with the hepatitis B within 24 hours of birth and physicians should not delay vaccination until after discharge, according to new recommendations from the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Previously, the recommendations allowed for newborn vaccination after discharge.

Most people infected with hepatitis B develop chronic infections and may not know they are infected. Chronic infections increase the risk of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer. Since 1991, the ACIP has recommended universal hepatitis B vaccinations for all US infants as part of a comprehensive strategy to eliminate transmission of the hepatitis B virus. The strategy also recommended routine testing for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) for all pregnant women, prophylaxis for infants born to infected mothers, routine vaccination of older children and adolescents, and vaccinations for adults at risk. The new recommendations emphasize steps to further reduce mother-to-child transmission and increase vaccinations for vulnerable groups.