Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib)

Infant with severe vasculitis with disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) with gangrene of the hand secondary to Hib septicemia

What is Haemophilus Influenzae type b?
Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib) is a very serious bacterial illness that often affects children under 5 years old. The most common types of severe Hib disease are meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia, bacteremia (blood stream infection) and epiglottitis (infection and swelling of the throat). Hib can cause lifelong disability and may be deadly.

The Statistics
Most children with Hib disease need care in the hospital. Even with treatment, as many as 1 out of 20 children with Hib meningitis dies. As many as 1 out of 5 children who survive Hib meningitis will have brain damage or become deaf.

Before the Hib vaccine was available, Hib caused serious infections in 20,000 children and killed about1,000 children each year. Since the vaccine's introduction in 1987, the incidence of severe Hib disease have dropped more than 99% in the United States.

Recent outbreaks of Hib have resulted in the deaths of children in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Additionally, several children have been hospitalized with the disease, indicating that this dangerous disease is spreading once again.

The Vaccine
The Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae type b) vaccine protects children against Haemophilus influenzae type b. Three or four doses of Hib vaccine are recommended (depending on the vaccine brand). The first dose should be given at 2 months, the second dose at 4 months, the third dose at 6 months (if needed), and the last dose between 12 and 15 months.

There is currently no routine recommendation for adults to receive this vaccine.