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November 23, 2015

UVA honored for protecting babies against Hepatitis B

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University of Virginia Children’s Hospital and UVA Women’s Services have received a national award for their efforts to immunize newborns against Hepatitis B. 

UVA is one of just three Virginia hospitals and approximately 210 nationwide that have been recognized in the Immunization Action Coalition’s Birth Dose Honor Roll . According to the coalition, hospitals are honored for giving at least 90 percent of babies the vaccine. Hospital must also put in place a range of policies and procedures, including standardized admission orders that include the Hepatitis B vaccine for all newborns along with staff and patient education about the importance of protecting newborns against Hepatitis B. At UVA, 92 percent of newborns received the vaccine between July 2014 and June 2015. 

“We are proud of the united effort our team members have demonstrated at the Children’s Hospital and Women’s Services to support the immunization of newborns against this serious disease,” said Sally Miller, CNM, the lead nurse practitioner for UVA’s Hepatitis B vaccination efforts. 

All babies are recommended to receive the vaccine at birth to protect them against a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus, which can be transmitted to newborns from mothers with Hepatitis B. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic Hepatitis B can lead to serious health problems such as liver failure, liver cancer or death. The risk of chronic infection is higher among babies, according to the CDC; approximately 90 percent of infected infants have chronic Hepatitis B infections, compared with just 2-6 percent of adults.

“Hospitals and birthing centers have a responsibility to protect babies from life-threatening hepatitis B infection,” said Deborah Wexler, MD, executive director and founder of the Immunization Action Coalition . “University of Virginia Health System’s commitment to the best practice of hepatitis B vaccination at birth has shown them to be a leader in preventing the transmission of the hepatitis B virus.”

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