Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus affecting the liver. Up to one in four people who carry the disease develop liver cancer or live failure later in life.
It can be caught throughout life.
Babies with this disease may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms and they can carry it in their blood and pass it on to other people.
Why are babies immunised?
To ensure immunisation is effective as possible, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommends immunisation is done as soon as possible after birth.
From 1 May 2000 all babies receive the hepatitis B immunisation for free as a part of their routine childhood immunisation schedule.
Do I have a choice?
Before you have your baby or soon after, your doctor or midwife will also ask you to decide if you want your baby to receive the immunisation.
The first immunisation is given before you leave hospital and three more doses are given when you baby is 2, 4 and 6 or 12 months old. This immunisation is a part of their routine immunisations so no additional needles are required.
You can choose for your baby not to be immunised, however the National Health and Medical Research Council recommends protecting your baby from this serious but preventable disease through immunisation.
How can I find out more?
We recommend that all parents read the National Health and Medical Research Council hepatitis B immunisation recommendations before their baby is born.