What Should I Know About the Hib Vaccine?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2019
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Hib vaccine is a vaccination that is most commonly recommended for young children. It is useful in preventing an extremely serious illness called Haemophilus Influenza B, which can result in devastating effects when contracted by children who are five years old or younger. Some of the most serious effects of Hib include death, often caused by meningitis. Other potential complications of Hib are permanent injury to the brain, severe pneumonia, or joint and cardiac infections. The severity of Haemophilus Influenza B prompted development of the Hib vaccine in the 1980s, and it is now a regularly scheduled part of most childhood vaccinations.

Children typically receive their first Hib vaccine shot when they are just a little over six weeks old, and giving the shot sooner is not recommended because it may be effective. Vaccine schedules may change, but children will likely receive additional vaccine boosters in the first few years of life. Even if the vaccine is missed as a baby, it is not administered after a child reaches age 5.

There are some exceptions to this, as some populations of people may be more vulnerable to Hib. Those who have autoimmune conditions like AIDS or lupus might receive the Hib vaccine periodically. Other things that could make people vulnerable to the illness include having undergone a transplant, recent cancer, or having a splenectomy (spleen removal).


As with all vaccinations, there can be side effects of the Hib vaccine. These are usually quite minor, but people could develop a little redness or soreness around the site where the vaccine occurred. Sometimes a fever develops that is 101° F (38.33° C) or higher. In rare instances people have an allergic reaction to the shot, which includes symptoms of difficulty breathing, wheezing, swelling of tongue or lips, and developing hives or rash. Should this occur, medical treatment is immediately required.

Since the Hib vaccine is an inactivated substance, getting the disease from the shot is not possible. The vaccine uses dead cells, and ordinarily these cannot transmit infection. It makes this particular vaccine unlike others where live cells are used, such as in some versions of the polio vaccine, the flu vaccination, or the chicken pox vaccine.

In a world where medical costs become increasingly expensive, sometimes people look at something like the Hib vaccine as superfluous. On the other hand, the potential complications of Hib can be tragic. Those who are trying to avoid high costs for the shots should look to local community clinics and public health departments, where they may have no-cost or low cost vaccination clinics.



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