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What are the benefits of the Hib vaccine?
The Hib vaccine protects your child against a severe bacterial infection that mostly affects babies and children under 5 years old. The bacteria can cause epiglottitis (severe swelling in the throat that makes it hard to breathe), a serious form of pneumonia, and a disease called bacterial meningitis.
Meningitis is an infection of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. Hib meningitis causes death in 1 out of 20 children and permanent brain damage in up to 20 percent of those who survive.
Hib, or Haemophilus influenzae type b, can also cause serious joint and skin infections as well as other less common infections.
Before the Hib vaccine was approved for young children in the late 1980s, Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in U.S. children under 5. About 20,000 children in the United States, most of them under 5 years old, contracted Hib meningitis each year.
Thanks to the vaccine, the incidence has dropped almost 99 percent and today there are fewer than 55 cases of Hib each year. The cases that still occur are mostly in children who haven't gotten all their shots or are too young to have been immunized.
What's the recommended schedule?
Recommended number of doses
Three or four doses, depending on the brand
- At 2 months
- At 4 months
- At 6 months (if needed, depending on brand of vaccine given at 2 and 4 months)
- Between 12 and 15 months
It's especially important for kids to get this vaccine on schedule because the diseases it protects against tend to strike children before the age of 2.
If your child doesn't get the vaccine on schedule, be sure to talk to your child's doctor about the catch-up schedule.
To track your child's immunizations, use BabyCenter's Immunization Scheduler.
Who should not get the Hib vaccine?
- Children younger than 6 weeks old
- Any child who has had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose
Are there any precautions I should take?
Children who are moderately to severely ill should probably wait until they recover before getting the Hib vaccine. That way, if they do have any side effects, they'll be better able to tolerate them.
What are the possible side effects?
Up to 30 percent of children have some redness, pain, or swelling at the site of the injection. Fever and irritability happen infrequently. These symptoms would show up within a day of vaccination and last two to three days.
Severe allergic reactions are rare but possible with any vaccine. See what our expert says about how to tell whether your baby's having an adverse reaction.
If your child has an adverse reaction to this or any other vaccine, talk to your child's doctor and report it to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.