Why get vaccinated?
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease is a serious disease caused by bacteria. It usually affects children under 5 years old. It can also affect adults with certain medical conditions.
Your child can get Hib disease by being around other children or adults who may have the bacteria and not know it. The germs spread from person to person. If the germs stay in the child’s nose and throat, the child probably will not get sick. But sometimes the germs spread into the lungs or the bloodstream, and then Hib can cause serious problems. This is called invasive Hib disease.
Before Hib vaccine, Hib disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis among children under 5 years old in the United States. Meningitis is an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. It can lead to brain damage and deafness. Hib disease can also cause:
- severe swelling in the throat, making it hard to breathe
- infections of the blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart
Before Hib vaccine, about 20,000 children in the United States under 5 years old got Hib disease each year, and about 3% – 6% of them died. Hib vaccine can prevent Hib disease. Since use of Hib vaccine began, the number of cases of invasive Hib disease has decreased by more than 99%. Many more children would get Hib disease if we stopped vaccinating.
Several different brands of Hib vaccine are available. Your child will receive either 3 or 4 doses, depending on which vaccine is used.
Doses of Hib vaccine are usually recommended at these ages:
- First Dose: 2 months of age
- Second Dose: 4 months of age
- Third Dose: 6 months of age (if needed, depending on brand of vaccine)
- Final/Booster Dose: 12–15 months of age
Hib vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines. Hib vaccine may be given as part of a combination vaccine. Combination vaccines are made when two or more types of vaccine are combined together into a single shot, so that one vaccination can protect against more than one disease. Children over 5 years old and adults usually do not need Hib vaccine. But it may be recommended for older children or adults with asplenia or sickle cell disease, before surgery to remove the spleen, or following a bone marrow transplant. It may also be recommended for people 5 to 18 years old with HIV. Ask your doctor for details. Your doctor or the person giving you the vaccine can give you more information.
Some people should not get this vaccine
- Hib vaccine should not be given to infants younger than 6 weeks of age.
- A person who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a previous dose of Hib vaccine, OR has a severe allergy to any part of this vaccine, should not get Hib vaccine.
- Tell the person giving the vaccine about any severe allergies.
- People who are mildly ill can get Hib vaccine.
- People who are moderately or severely ill should probably wait until they recover.
- Talk to your healthcare provider if the person getting the vaccine isn’t feeling well on the day the shot is scheduled.
Risks of a vaccine reaction
With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own. Serious reactions are also possible but are rare. Most people who get Hib vaccine do not have any problems with it.
Mild Problems following Hib vaccine:
- redness, warmth, or swelling where the shot was given
These problems are uncommon. If they occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 2 or 3 days.
Problems that could happen after any vaccine:
Any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at fewer than 1 in a million doses, and would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.
Older children, adolescents, and adults might also experience these problems after any vaccine:
- People sometimes faint after a medical procedure, including vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes can help prevent fainting, and injuries caused by a fall. Tell your doctor if you feel dizzy, or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
- Some people get severe pain in the shoulder and have difficulty moving the arm where a shot was given. This happens very rarely.
The safety of vaccines is always being monitored by national authorities.
What if there is a serious reaction?
What should I look for?
- Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or unusual behavior.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include:
- swelling of the face and throat
- difficulty breathing
- a fast heartbeat
These would usually start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
What should I do?
- If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can’t wait, call your local emergency service or get the person to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.