Why does my child need the Hib vaccine?
The Hib vaccine protects your child from the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacteria, which can cause severe swelling in the throat that makes it hard to breathe, a serious form of pneumonia, infections of the blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart, and a disease called bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord that can lead to lasting brain damage and deafness in young children, and can sometimes be fatal. Before Hib vaccine was approved for young children in 1990, Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis.
Before the Hib vaccine, about 20,000 children in the United States under 5 years old got severe Hib disease each year and nearly 1,000 people died. Among those who survived Hib meningitis, about one in five was left blind, deaf, mentally retarded, or learning disabled. Today there are fewer than a hundred cases of Hib meningitis and fewer than five deaths each year.
It’s especially important that your child receive this vaccine on schedule because the diseases it protects against tend to strike children between the ages of 2 months and 2 years. The protective immunity your child receives from the Hib vaccine is more complete than it would be if he or she got the disease itself.
When should my child get the Hib vaccine?
Children should get the Hib vaccine at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months of age. The vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines. If a dose is missed or you get behind schedule, get the next dose as soon as you can.
Who shouldn’t get the Hib vaccine?
People who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of Hib vaccine and children less than 6 weeks of age should not receive the vaccine. People who are moderately or severely ill at the time of the scheduled shot should wait until they recover from their illness.
What are the possible side effects or risks of an adverse reaction?
Up to one-fourth of the children have some redness, warmth, or swelling at the site of the injection. One in 20 children has a fever of 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees Celsius) or higher. These symptoms may show up within a day of vaccination and can last two to three days.
The risk of the Hib vaccine causing a serious reaction or death is extremely small. Most children have no side effects at all after getting it.
Many more children would get Hib disease if we stopped vaccinating!