Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is bacteria that causes serious disease. It usually strikes children younger than age 5. It's spread from person-to-person by coughing and sneezing. If the germs spread to the lungs or bloodstream, Hib can cause serious illness. This includes:
Meningitis. This is an infection of the coverings of the spinal cord and brain.
Pneumonia. This is an infection in the lungs.
Epiglottitis. This is severe swelling in the throat.
Other infections. These include infections of the ears, sinuses, blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart.
Illness caused by Hib has been nearly abolished in the U.S. since 1987. That's because of a vaccine. In rare cases, children and adults may still develop Hib infections. This can occur if the person has not completed their series of vaccinations. Or it can happen in older children and adults who didn't get the vaccine earlier in life.
The Hib vaccine is given to babies and children in 3 or 4 doses depending on the brand of vaccine at these ages:
6 months (if needed, depends on the brand of vaccine)
12 to 15 months
Children younger than 6 weeks of age should not get the Hib vaccine. Children who have a moderate to severe illness with or without a fever should wait until they are well to get the Hib vaccine. Children who should not get Hib include those who have had a severe reaction to the Hib vaccine. Your child's healthcare provider will advise you on the vaccine in these and other cases.
A vaccine is like any medicine. It can rarely cause major side effects such as an allergic reaction. The risk of Hib causing serious harm or death is very small. Its benefits well outweigh this risk. Most people who get the Hib vaccine don't have any problems with it. Some minor reactions may include:
Redness, warmth, or swelling at the site where the shot was given
Give your child aspirin-free pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as directed by your child's healthcare provider.
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:
Wheezing. This is a squeaking sound while breathing because of tight airways.
Skin rash (hives)
Swelling of face and throat
Change in behavior
Report these or any other unusual signs to your child's healthcare provider right away. Call 911 or get immediate care for severe allergic reactions.