The US is unusual in vaccinating all newborns against Hepatitis B at birth. Much more common is only vaccinating high risk babies at birth. The definition varies by country but it always includes mothers known to be Hepatitis B positive.
Because Hepatitis B is often transmitted sexually, there's a concern that vaccinating against Hepatitis B somehow sexualizes the innocent newborn as Hep B is usually transmitted through sexual contact.. But here's the punch line most don't know: While vaccinating all newborns is unusual, vaccinating very young infants against Hepatitis B is not.
Parents who are concerned about Hepatitis B vaccination of newborns and the very young should have their concerns allayed when they realize that: "As of 2007, 171 of the 193 member countries of the World HealthOrganization (WHO) had implemented the recommendations of theExpanded Programme on Immunization to offer universal hepatitisB vaccination to infants"
I live in the province of Ontario, Canada, which only vaccinates high risk infants at birth and vaccinates the rest of the population in Grade 7 through a school vaccination program. That's quite unusual. A recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal Hepatitis B immunization strategies: timing is everything explains the benefits of universal vaccination of infants. I strongly recommend that concerned parents read this article..
My personal view: There's no downside to the American practice except cost and causing unfounded fears in some parents. In a country where health care isn't supplied universally, a system that provides a safety net by vaccinating at birth seems to make sense.
In any case add Hep B to the DTaP or DTaP-IPV vaccine series that starts at 2 months so that an additional injection isn't needed.
The evidence doesn't support waiting until adolescence to protect against Hepatitis B.
Here's a great quote from the CMA Journal article
Chronic HBV infection, with the attendant risk of cirrhosisand hepatocellular carcinoma, occurs in 1%–5% of adultsand up to 90% of infants who are infected with HBV. Providing vaccinations during adolescence without offering vaccinationsduring infancy misses this critical period when the acquisitionof a HBV infection can be the most harmful. Epidemiologic studiesshow that the age distribution of HBV varies by jurisdictionand suggest that roughly one-third of chronic infections areacquired during infancy and early childhood. An idealvaccine schedule should protect against infection both in infancy,when the risk of becoming a chronic HBV carrier is highest,and in adolescence, when high-risk sexual and drug-using behavioursoccur more frequently.
Epidemiologic data are critical for informing decisions aboutvaccination. Estimating the age-specific incidence of acuteinfections is valuable for planning prevention measures. However,acute infections in infants and toddlers may be missed becauseHBV infection is often asymptomatic in young children. In manyjurisdictions, the age-specific incidence of HBV infection isunknown.