Jayanta Dey / Reuters
Without it the nation would suffer heavy losses.
A shot of the hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth can help save hundreds of thousands of lives each year. When followed up with at least two more doses of the vaccine during the first year of life, the birth dose protects newborns from mother-to-child transmission of the liver-wasting disease, and also guards against infection during a period when the virus is most damaging to future health. Yet, many practitioners are unaware of or ignore this need.