The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted in favor of changes to the current recommendations that would remove the permissive language for the hepatitis B birth dose to be administered after discharge from the hospital.

The revised language will state that for all medically stable infants weighing greater than or equal to 2,000 g at birth and born to hepatitis B surface antigen–negative mothers, the first dose of vaccine should be administered within 24 hours of birth. Originally, the recommendations were to state that vaccination should take place before hospital discharge, but this language was changed via a unanimously approved amendment to broaden the scope of the guidelines. Furthermore, the recommendations state that only single-antigen hepatitis B vaccine should be used for the birth dose.

“For those infants with birth weights less than 2,000 grams, the birth dose is not counted as part of the vaccine series,” noted Sarah Schillie, MD, of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, who spoke during the ACIP meeting.

“The language regarding vaccination within 24 hours of birth is consistent with what the [World Health Organization] says,” she explained.

The proposed changes came after the hepatitis B workgroup held five teleconference meetings between February and September of this year to discuss and determine what changes, if any, need to be made. A draft was prepared and presented at the ACIP meeting, at which the changes were unanimously approved by the 14-member advisory committee.

The recommendations agreed upon will be submitted for approval to CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, and, if approved, will be published by Jan. 1, 2017, at which point they will go into effect.