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Southwest Georgia hospitals achieve high Hepatitis B vaccination rates among newborns

Albany, GA

ALBANY — Several hospitals in Southwest Georgia, including Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, have been recognized by the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health for achieving one of the highest reported rates in the state for its work to protect newborns from Hepatitis B infection.

Phoebe is the newest entry into IAC’s Birth Dose Honor Roll, which recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that have attained high coverage levels for administering the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth.

The national standard of care to prevent Hepatitis B virus infection in babies is to administer the vaccine to all newborns before they leave the hospital or birthing center. Officials say this standard is being adopted by centers of health care excellence nationwide as a safety net to protect newborns.

Phoebe immunized 100 percent of babies from May 1, 2013 to May 1 of this year, information from the IAC shows. It is one of two hospital systems in the state to immunize 100 percent of babies during the designated time frame.

“It is imperative here at Phoebe that we ensure the highest possible level of care for the newborns we deliver,” said Tracy Morgan, vice president of women and children’s services at Phoebe. “Receiving this recognition is directly related to the dedication of our physicians, nurses and other staff.”

The other Georgia hospital to vaccinate 100 percent of babies during the relevant time frame was the mother and baby unit with Grady Health Systems in Atlanta, which did it from Nov. 20, 2012-Nov. 20, 2013. There were a few other facilities from Southwest Georgia to make the list, including Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie for immunizing 98 percent of newborns from Aug. 1, 2012-July, 31, 2013, Dorminy Medical Center in Fitzgerald for a 97 percent coverage rate from March 1, 2013-March 31 of this year, Memorial Hospital and Manor in Bainbridge for vaccinating 97 percent of infants from May 2, 2013-May 1 of this year and South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta for inoculating 96 percent of babies from Sept. 1, 2012-Aug. 31, 2013.

“Hospitals and birthing centers have a responsibility to protect babies from life-threatening Hepatitis B infection,” said Dr. Deborah Wexler, executive director and founder of IAC. “Phoebe’s commitment to the best practice of Hepatitis B vaccination at birth has shown them to be a leader in preventing the transmission of the Hepatitis B virus.”

For more information on birth dose honor roll program, visit www.immunize.org/honor-roll/birthdose.

By Jennifer Parks, The Albany Herald

Read article on The Albany Herald Website.

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