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Protect Your Child Against Hib Disease

Make sure your child gets all doses of Hib vaccine for best protection against Hib disease. Hib bacteria can cause severe diseases like meningitis (an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord).

How Can I Protect My Child from Hib Disease?

Hib disease can be prevented by Hib vaccine (Hib is short for Haemophilus influenzae type b). All children younger than 5 years of age should be vaccinated with Hib vaccine. Vaccinating infants protects them at a time when they have the highest risk of getting the disease and suffering the most dangerous symptoms.

There are two types of Hib vaccine for infants. With one vaccine, your child gets doses at 2, 4, and 6 months of age; with the other vaccine, your child gets doses at 2 and 4 months of age. All children need one booster shot at 12 through 15 months of age.

Call your child's healthcare provider if you have questions and to make sure your child has received all scheduled doses of Hib vaccine.

Hib Vaccine Works

Before Hib vaccines, there were about 20,000 cases of invasive Hib disease each year in the United States. "Invasive disease" means that germs invade parts of the body that are normally free from germs, like blood. When this happens, disease is usually very severe, requires treatment in a hospital, and sometimes causes death. Today, with ongoing vaccination, there are fewer than 55 cases of invasive Hib disease each year.

Despite the success of Hib vaccine, parents need to remember these bacteria are still out there. Hib bacteria can be spread to infants and children who are not protected by Hib vaccine. If vaccination levels get too low in the United States, Hib disease could make a comeback. Read a story about a family affected by Hib disease (www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hib/unprotected-story.htm).

Risks of Hib Vaccine

Hib vaccines are safe, but side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild or moderate, meaning they do not affect daily activities. They also get better on their own in a few days. Mild problems occur in up to 1 out of 4 children and include redness, warmth, swelling or pain where the shot is given. Fever can occur in up to 1 out of 20 children.

What Is Hib Disease?

Hib bacteria can cause invasive disease, including life-threatening infections such as:

  • Meningitis (infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord)
  • Epiglottitis (swelling in the throat that makes it hard to breathe)
  • Pneumonia (infection in the lungs)

Other forms of invasive Hib disease include blood, bone, and joint infections.

How Is Hib Disease Spread?

Hib bacteria spread through contact with mucus or droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person, often by coughing or sneezing. However, Hib bacteria are more commonly spread by people who have the bacteria in their noses and throats but who are not ill (have no symptoms of being sick).

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SOURCE: CDC, March 17, 2014

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