The Hib Vaccine: Health 101

Find out why and when your child needs the Hib vaccine.

Why does my child need the Hib vaccine?

The Hib vaccine protects your child against Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria (Hib) disease, which is most common in children under 5, and especially in babies 4 to 12 months old.

Usually found in the nose and throat, Hib bacteria may be passed from person to person. If the germs spread to the lungs or bloodstream, Hib can cause serious conditions including meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord; pneumonia; swelling in the throat that makes breathing difficult; and other infections of the blood, joints, and bones.

Before the Hib vaccine was introduced in 1987, Hib disease affected about 20,000 children under 5 every year; the disease was the main cause of bacterial meningitis -- which can lead to brain damage, blindness, deafness, and even death -- for that age group. Though other types of bacteria and viruses may still cause meningitis, the number of Hib-triggered cases has decreased by 99 percent since the vaccine has become widely used.

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