Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is a bacteria which causes serious disease 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. This is an infection of the coverings of the spinal cord and brain
Pneumonia. This is an infection in the lungs
Severe swelling in the throat
Infections of the blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart
H. influenzae type b has been nearly abolished in the U.S. 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.
Hib is given to babies and children in three or four doses (depending on the brand of vaccine) at the following ages:
12 to 15 months
18 months to 5 years, if needed as a "catch-up" dose
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 doctor will advise you on the vaccine in these and other situations.
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
Give your child aspirin-free pain reliever, as directed by your child's doctor.
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 doctor.