Haemophilus Influenzae Type b (Hib)

What is Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)?

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is a serious disease caused by bacteria that usually strikes children under the age of 5. It is spread from person-to-person by coughing and sneezing. If the germs spread to the lungs or bloodstream, Hib can cause serious illness including:

  • meningitis - infection of the coverings of the spinal cord and brain
  • pneumonia - an infection in the lungs
  • severe swelling in the throat
  • infections of the blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart

Immunization against Hib:H. influenzae type b has been nearly abolished in the US due to effective vaccine development, which has been available since 1988. Immunization with the Hib vaccine can help prevent Haemophilus influenzae type b disease. In rare cases, children may still develop H. influenzae type b infections. This can occur if the child has not completed their series of immunizations or in older children who did not receive the vaccine as an infant.

When is Hib vaccine given?

Hib is given to babies and children in four doses at the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 12 to 15 months
  • 18 months to 5 years, catch-up as needed

Children younger than 6 weeks of age should not receive the Hib vaccine. Children who are sick or have a fever should wait until they are well to receive the Hib vaccine. Children who should not receive Hib include those who have had a severe reaction to Hib vaccine. Your child's physician will advise you on the vaccine in these and other situations.

What are the risks from Hib vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medication, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of Hib causing serious harm or death is very small. Most people who get the Hib vaccine do not have any problems with it. Some minor problems may include:

  • redness, warmth or swelling in the location where the shot was given
  • fever

How do I care for my child after immunization with Hib vaccine?

  • Give your child aspirin-free pain reliever, as directed by your child's physician.
  • An allergic reaction would most likely occur within a few minutes to a few hours of the shot. Signs of an allergic reaction may include difficulty breathing, wheezing, (squeaking sounds while breathing due to tight airways), weakness, fast heartbeat, hives, and paleness. Report these or any other unusual signs immediately to your child's physician.

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