The vaccine for Hib can prevent Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease. Before the introduction of the vaccine, this disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis among children under five years old in the United States. In most cases, children should get the vaccine at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months of age. Children over five years old usually do not need it.
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease is a serious illness caused by bacteria. It usually strikes children under five years old.
Your child can get Hib disease by being around other children or adults who may have the bacteria and not know it. The germs spread from person to person. If the germs stay in the child's nose and throat, the child probably will not get sick. But sometimes the germs spread into the lungs or the bloodstream, and then Hib can cause serious problems.
Before the Hib vaccine, this disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis among children younger than five years old in the United States. Meningitis is an infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings, which can lead to lasting brain damage and deafness. Hib disease can also cause:
- Severe swelling in the throat, making it hard to breathe
- Infections of the blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart
Before the vaccine, about 20,000 children in the United States under five years old got severe Hib disease each year and nearly 1,000 people died.
Hib vaccine clearly can prevent Hib disease. Many more children would get the disease if we stopped vaccinating.