Honor Roll for High Rate of Vaccination Against Hepatitis B at Birth

March 2, 2015 3:40 pm

Mercy Health Birth Center at Saint Mary’s Recognized by Immunization Action Coalition

The Birth Center at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s has been recognized by the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) for achieving one of the highest reported rates in the state for its work to protect newborns from hepatitis B virus infection.

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s is the newest entry into IAC’s Birth Dose Honor Roll , which recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that have attained high coverage levels for administering the hepatitis B vaccine at birth. The hospital immunized 89% of babies in 2013 and took additional steps to prevent perinatal transmission of hepatitis B. This is compared to 81% of babies born in Michigan during this same time period.

The rationale behind administering the hepatitis B vaccine immediately after birth is that if an infant is exposed to hepatitis B, 80-90% of them will develop chronic conditions from the disease, according to the World Health Organization.
The national standard of care to prevent hepatitis B virus infection in babies is to administer hepatitis B vaccine to all newborns before they leave the hospital or birthing center. This standard is being adopted by centers of healthcare excellence nationwide as a safety net to protect newborns from a wide range of medical errors that lead to babies being unprotected from perinatal hepatitis B infection.

“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 IAC. “Mercy Health’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.”

The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) works to increase immunization rates and prevent disease by creating and distributing educational materials for health professionals and the public that enhance the delivery of safe and effective immunization services. The Coalition also facilitates communication about the safety, efficacy, and use of vaccines within the broad immunization community of patients, parents, health care organizations, and government health agencies.

For more than a decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has worked in concert with and provided financial support to IAC for the purpose of educating health professionals about U.S. vaccine recommendations. CDC recognized IAC’s accomplishments in 1997 by awarding it the prestigious Partners in Public Health Award for efforts “instrumental in achieving high levels of routine infant hepatitis B immunization.”

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