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CDC Releases Guidance to Prevent Mother-To-Child Transmission of Hepatitis B During COVID-19 Pandemic

Interim guidance to prevent mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B virus during COVID-19-related disruptions in routine preventive services.

This week is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) in the United States. This annual observance highlights the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable disease, and provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of immunization partners. This year, we encourage you to celebrate the critical role vaccination plays in protecting our children, communities, and public health. Giving babies and toddlers the recommended vaccinations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases including hepatitis B.

Pregnant women and mothers face specific challenges when it comes to protecting their infants. CDC  recently released updated guidance on how to prevent mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following information was posted to CDC’s Schedule Changes and Guidance gateway page:

This guidance is being provided to ensure that certain safety nets are in place to prevent mother-to-child hepatitis B virus (HBV) transmission in the event of significant COVID-19 pandemic-related disruptions in routine preventive services before, during, and after labor and delivery. The guidance is intended to be used by obstetric and pediatric care staff for consideration while prioritizing the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HBV infection (see https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/rr/rr6701a1.htm).

Prenatal care of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive women

Ensure that HBsAg-positive pregnant women are able to advocate for the proper care of their HBV-exposed infants in case labor and delivery occurs at an unplanned facility or is attended by staff that are not knowledgeable about managing HBV-exposed infants:

  • Educate HBsAg-positive women on their HBsAg status and the importance of proper preventive care for their infant, including hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) and single antigen hepatitis B vaccine at birth, hepatitis B vaccine series completion at six months of age, and post-vaccination serologic testing.
  • Supply HBsAg-positive women with documentation of HBsAg laboratory results and ask them to provide this documentation to labor and delivery staff at the time of delivery.

Labor and delivery care

  • Identify HBsAg status of all women presenting for delivery.
  • If a woman’s HBsAg status is positive, HBIG and single antigen hepatitis B vaccine should be administered to her infant within 12 hours of birth.
  • If a woman’s HBsAg status is unknown, single antigen hepatitis B vaccine should be administered to her infant within 12 hours of birth. Administration of HBIG should be determined per ACIP recommendations (see https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/rr/rr6701a1.htm). Infants weighing <2,000 grams should receive HBIG if the mother’s HBsAg status cannot be determined within 12 hours of birth.
  • Provide the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine to all other newborns within 24 hours of birth to prevent horizontal hepatitis B virus transmission from household or other close contacts.

Pediatric care of HBV-exposed infants

  • Every effort should be made to ensure HBV-exposed infants complete the hepatitis B vaccine series following the ACIP recommendations (see https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/rr/rr6701a1.htm). Providers using single-component vaccine who are experiencing immunization service disruption should administer hepatitis B vaccine as close to the recommended intervals as possible, including series completion at 6 months, and follow ACIP recommendations for post-vaccination serologic testing.
  • If post-vaccination serologic testing is delayed beyond 6 months after the hepatitis B series is completed, the provider should consider administering a “booster” dose of single antigen hepatitis B vaccine and then ordering post-vaccination serologic testing (HBsAg & antibody to HBsAg [anti-HBs]) 1-2 months after the “booster” dose.


Posted In: 
Prevention and Wellness
Public Health and Safety
Tagged: Hepatitis B