The provincial government is urging all new mothers to have their babies vaccinated against hepatitis-B, in an effort to reduce B.C.'s high infection rate which is four times the national average.

Since 1992, the province has paid to have grade six students immunized. Now, all babies will be covered as well.

Dr. Shaun Peck, the deputy provincial health officer, says the vaccination program is important. "It will prevent chronic liver disease and even liver cancer, which you get from the hep-B virus," he says.

LINK: More on hepatitis-B

The stepped-up program will cost $2.25 million a year. The province will also foot the $760,000 bill for a one-time catch-up program for at-risk children between two months and 12 years.

It's suspected that BC's rate of hepatitis-B is so high because of immigration patterns. The virus is prevalent in many Asian and African countries.