What Is Hib?

Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria (Hib) were the leading cause of meningitis in children younger than 5 years old until the Hib vaccine became available. It also used to be a common cause of infections in the ears, lungs, blood, skin, and joints in children.

Hib Immunization Schedule

The Hib vaccine is given by injection at ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months (however, some of the Hib vaccines do not require a dose at 6 months)
  • a booster dose at 12–15 months

Kids ages 15 months or older who are receiving the vaccine for the first time only need one dose.

Children ages 12 months to 59 months (almost 5 years old) may need more doses if their immune systems are weakened due to things like asplenia (when the spleen is missing or not working properly), HIV infection, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, or a stem cell transplant.

The vaccine is not routinely recommended for kids older than 5 unless they have a condition that weakens the immune system and have never been vaccinated.

Why Is the Hib Vaccine Recommended?

The vaccine provides long-term protection from Haemophilus influenzae type b. Those who are immunized have protection against Hib meningitis; pneumonia; pericarditis (an infection of the membrane covering the heart); and infections of the blood, bones, and joints caused by the bacteria.

Possible Risks of Hib Immunization

Minor problems — such as redness, swelling, or tenderness where the shot was given — can happen. There is a very small chance of an allergic reaction with any vaccine.

When to Delay or Avoid Hib Immunization

The vaccine is not recommended if your child:

  • is currently sick, although simple colds or other minor illnesses should not prevent immunization
  • had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous Hib vaccine

Caring for Your Child After Hib Immunization

The vaccine may cause mild soreness and redness in the area where the shot was given. For pain and fever, check with your doctor to see if you can give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and to find out the appropriate dose.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

  • Call if you aren't sure whether the vaccine should be postponed or avoided.
  • Call if moderate or serious adverse reactions appear after the Hib injection.
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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