Immunization Schedule, Children (cont.)
Hepatitis B Vaccine
Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable disease that can lead to chronic liver disease and cancer. The infection is spread through contact with the blood and body fluids of an infected person.
- Infants should receive the first dose at birth. The immunization schedule encourages the use of hepatitis B vaccine for all infants before hospital discharge. The second and third doses are usually given at 1-4 months and at 6-18 months of age. (Specific recommendations are available for infants born to mothers who are infected with hepatitis B.) A fourth dose may be administered when combination vaccines are administered after the birth dose.
- Unimmunized children younger than 18 years may begin the series at any age.
- A new
one-shot vaccine that protects infants against five different diseases has been approved by the FDA. That means babies may get
six fewer shots during their first few years of life. The combination vaccine (Pediarix) contains hepatitis B vaccine along with DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis vaccine) and inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV). Pediarix is recommended to be given as a
three-dose primary series to infants at about 2, 4, and 6 months of age. Pediarix should not be given to infants before the age of 6 weeks and therefore is not indicated for infants born to mothers who are infected with hepatitis B or whose hepatitis B status is unknown.
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