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The Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program was created in 1990 by the CDC to prevent transmission of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) from infected mothers to their infants. Mothers who are identified as being HBV-positive are educated by the local health department and enrolled in this program to ensure the baby is given hepatitis B vaccine and HBIG within 12 hours of birth, completes the hepatitis B vaccine series on time, and has post vaccination serological testing (PVST). PVST is done at 9-12 months of age to check for vaccine effectiveness and to check for infection.

The Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau For Public Health, Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services has just completed its revision of the Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention: Initial Report & Delivery Form and approval has been granted for the state-wide distribution of this form to all West Virginia practitioners, hospitals, and health departments. This form provides the means for us to initiate the tracking of an infant born to an HBsAg-positive mother and to ensure the completion of the Hepatitis B series and post vaccination serological testing.

The Initial Report and Delivery Form should be completed at delivery and faxed back to the The Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau For Public Health, Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services on all infants born to HBsAg-positive mothers or mothers with an unknown HBsAg status by discharge.

As you know, preventing perinatal transmission of HBV is significant because the younger someone is when the disease is acquired, the higher their risk of becoming chronically infected. Eighty to 90% of infections acquired at birth will result in chronic HBV. Approximately 25% of those who are chronically infected in childhood will die prematurely of liver cancer or cirrhosis. West Virginia has had high rates of HBV for several years, which puts our babies at risk. It is so important to screen all pregnant women for HBV by checking a hepatitis surface antigen (HBsAg) during each pregnancy.

The local health department and/or infection-control nurse at your facility can also send the updated delivery form for babies born to hepatitis B surface antigen-positive women to you when needed. After birth, the program follows the infant to ensure appointments are made and kept for the additional hepatitis B vaccinations, which are needed to ensure immunity from HBV.

The Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health, Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services, are in the process of getting out to meet everyone and have already had the privilege of meeting several of you. In the meantime, please reach out to Lara Sitler, at lara.i.sitler@wv.gov, with questions.