What is the Haemophilus Influenzae type b (“Hib”) Vaccine?
The Haemophilus influenzae type b (“Hib”) vaccine is formulated to prevent diseases in infants and young children caused by the haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria. Bacterial infection from Hib can lead to numerous severe infections, including meningitis, pneumonia and epiglottitis. The Hib vaccine is often combined with other childhood vaccines.
Haemophilus influenzae type b is one of six haemophilus influenzae bacteria. Hib does not cause the flu. The bacteria is spread through contact with infected mucus or saliva and can be transferred through the air by coughing or sneezing. Hib mostly affects infants and children under five years old.
The Hib vaccine is made from the polysaccharide component of the bacteria and is designed to trigger the immune system to produce antibodies against Hib bacteria. The antibodies that are produced protect the child from future infection. Hib vaccines are conjugate vaccines, which means the polysaccharide is attached to a protein, thereby increasing its immunogenicity.
Who should receive the Hib vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the Hib vaccine as a two to four vaccine series administered throughout a child’s infancy, however it should not be administered before the child is six weeks old. While the number of doses varies by brand, the Hib series typically begins with the first dose at two months old. The second dose is typically administered at four months, the third dose at six months and the final dose at 12 to 15 months old. It is not typically recommended for adults or children older than 5 years, although it may be given to adults in advance of certain surgeries or to those with certain medical conditions.
How is the Hib vaccine administered?
Often, the Hib vaccination is administered with other childhood immunizations. The Hib vaccine should be administered intramuscularly, meaning through the skin, underneath the fatty tissue and into the muscle tissue. Hib vaccines should always be injected at a 90-degree angle into the vastus lateralis (thigh) muscle in younger children and in the deltoid muscle (upper arm) in older children.