Hepatitis B 'what ifs'

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

The risks versus benefits of vaccinating children have weighed heavily on my mind, as a first-time expectant mother and a pediatric nurse. The vaccine that particularly interests me is the hepatitis B vaccine.

While some parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children, others are choosing to modify the vaccine schedule. Often for the hepatitis B vaccine this means delaying it until the baby is a few months old or skipping it altogether.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, if a baby is to become infected with hepatitis B, there is a 90 percent chance that he or she will develop a chronic, lifelong infection, compared with adults who stand a 2 percent to 6 percent chance of chronic infection. This is a significant increase, which is why the CDC recommends babies receive the first hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of being born, followed by additional booster shots.

I understand if a baby is born to a mother who is not positive for hepatitis B that the risk of the baby being exposed to infected blood is slim, but there is always the "what if." Since only half of adults with newly acquired hepatitis B virus actually have symptoms, it seems to me there are too many "what ifs" to delay, or refuse, this particular vaccine.



Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here