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Are you pregnant, and preparing for a hospital birth? You may be curious what vaccines baby's generally receive after birth. Immunization schedules vary from country to country, and they are also being constantly reviewed in the interest of your child's safety.

You might be surprised to hear that there is generally only one vaccine given at birth, though, and it is the shot against Hepatitis B. Your baby will also (with your consent) receive vitamin K and a heel prick at hospital, but those are not vaccines. The Hep B shot comes in three doses, the first of which is given shortly after birth, and often within the first day.

It's not just vaccine rejectionists who wonder why your perfect little newborn baby needs to be inoculated against Hepatitis B. After all, she won't "be sharing needles for drugs or having unsafe sex!" But Hepatitis B is highly infectious and can be passed on in unexpected ways. Many of those who have Hep B never have any symptoms and don't feel sick at all, but kids infected with the disease are more likely to encounter nasty problems like cirrhosis and liver cancer later on in life; problems you would rather avoid!

We had a discussion about skipping the Hepatitis B vaccine for the exact reasons quoted above... my husband and I were unsure the shot was really needed, except perhaps in the case a blood transfusion was needed. One thing changed our mind, and it was our pediatrician's comment that the playground is a place where Hepatitis B can be caught.

And the risk may lie in a less obvious place than you thought. Yes, playgrounds have dirty drug needles lying about sometimes. But, children are often prone to fights and one may bite another. This is one way Hep B can be spread.

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