What Is It And Is It Necessary

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by Linda Shaw, MD, FAAP

The question:
Why does my baby need the Hepatitis B vaccine? She is not sexually active nor is she exposed in anyway to bloodborne illness. Seeing how she is at very low risk for this disease, why is it required? - Renee in Columbus, Ohio

The Pediatrician Answers:
Your baby is currently at low risk of Hepatitis B, but her risk will increase as she gets older and spends more time around other people. It is easier to immunize an infant than an older person against Hepatitis B, as smaller doses are required and it can be easily incorporated into the existing vaccine schedule. Most states now require Hepatitis B immunization before school entry.

Hepatitis B can become chronic and eventually lead to liver cancer in affected individuals. There is very little risk of side effects from the vaccine. I'd advise getting it done, along with the remainder of the currently recommended vaccines.

Feel free to check out the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org) for vaccine information. The Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) also has vaccine information on its website.PregnancyAndBaby.com

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