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Hib vaccine prevents serious infections caused by a type of bacteria called Haemophilus influenzae type b. Such infections include meningitis (an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia (lung infection), and epiglottitis (a severe throat infection).
Hib vaccine is recommended for all children under five years old in the United States, and it is usually given to infants starting at two months old. The Hib vaccine can be combined with other vaccines. Some brands of vaccine contain Hib along with other vaccines in a single shot.
Children should get a Hib vaccine at:
* Depending on what brand of Hib vaccine is used, your child might not need the dose at six months of age. Your doctor or nurse will tell you if this dose is needed.
If you miss a dose or get behind schedule, get the next dose as soon as you can. There is no need to start over. Hib vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Children older than five years and adults usually do not need Hib vaccine. But it may be recommended for older children or adults with asplenia (no spleen) or sickle cell disease, before surgery to remove the spleen, or following a bone marrow transplant. It may also be recommended for people 5 to 18 years old with HIV. Ask your doctor for details.
Hib bacteria (Haemophilus influenzae type b) can cause severe infections such as meningitis and is spread through contact with mucus or droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person, often by coughing or sneezing. Most of the time, Hib is spread by people who have the bacteria in their noses and throats but who are not ill (asymptomatic).
Meningitis is just one of the invasive diseases that can be caused by Hib. Hib can also cause life-threatening infections that make it difficult to breathe, including epiglottitis (infection in the throat) and pneumonia (infection in the lungs). Other forms of invasive Hib disease include blood, bone, or joint infections. Hib disease is very serious. As many as one out of 20 children with Hib meningitis dies, and it causes permanent brain damage or deafness in one out of five survivors.
Hib disease can cause:
Hib can be very serious in children under one year, but there is little risk of getting the disease after age five.
All children younger than five years of age should be vaccinated with Hib vaccine, because infants and very young children are most vulnerable to Hib disease. There is little risk of getting the disease after age five; however, you should discuss getting the vaccine with your physician if you have:
Microscopic view of Hib (Haemophilis Influenzae type b).