All women attending antenatal clinics will be routinely tested to see whether they have hepatitis B, under a new directive from the Department of Health.
Those found to have the virus will be asked to have their children immunized within 24 hours of birth. (See WDDTY Vol 3 No 4 about side effects of the hepatitis B vaccine.) The vaccine for babies, called Engerix B, will be available in the UK from the 20 July.
The precise date when the universal screening programme will be announced once the DOH has secured adequate funds.