THE Department of Health (DOH) in Western Visayas pushed the importance of vaccinating newborn infants 24 hours from birth to lessen the risk of children acquiring Hepatitis B virus very early in life.

DOH Regional Director Marlyn Convocar said that DOH health facilities in the region will conduct its initial vaccination activities on newborns within 24 hours after birth and educate mothers on the importance of birth dose vaccination.

Free vaccines against Hepatitis B are available in DOH hospitals nationwide and its vaccine birth dose is already included in Philhealth’s Newborn Care Package (NCP).

However, the coverage in the region is only 51 percent in 2015 although these vaccines are for free in DOH facilities.

Convocar encouraged all mothers-to-be and their loved ones to have their newborns be immunized by health workers against Hepatitis B within 24 hours after birth.

A recent order from Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial ordered all DOH hospitals to make the vaccines readily available, Convocar said.

The campaign is in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP) and Yellow Warriors Society Philippines in observance of World Hepatitis Day this month.

Succeeding doses of Hepatitis B are administered to infants at age 1½ months, 2½ months and 3½ months in the form of a combination vaccine called Pentavalent vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, influenza and Hepatitis B.

Babies and young children infected with the virus are more likely to get chronic hepatitis B that will lead to liver cancer. (LCP)