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  » Immunization Schedules  »  Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Hib was the most frequent cause of life threatening infection in children under five years of age before the introduction of Hib vaccines. Despite its name, it is not related in any way to influenza (‘the flu’). It may cause infection of the membranes covering the brain (meningitis), swelling in the throat which can block breathing (epiglottitis), pneumonia, joint infection or infection of the tissue under the skin, usually on the face (cellulitis). Both meningitis and epiglottitis can develop quickly and if left untreated, can rapidly cause death.

Hib immunisation

Several doses of Hib vaccine are required to protect a child against Hib. The first dose is normally given at two months of age. However, children up to the age of five years who were not immunised as babies can be given Hib vaccine. Older children do not need as many doses of Hib vaccine. Hib infection is rarely a problem in children over five years of age. For children born after 1 May 2000, the recommended Hib vaccine in Australia is PRP-OMP (PedvaxHIB). This vaccine contains a small amount of part of the Hib bacteria attached to a protein which stimulates the immune response. The PRP-OMP (PedvaxHIB) vaccine also contains a small amount of an aluminium salt. For children born before 1 May 2000, HbOC (HibTITER) which appears on the previous Immunisation Schedule, will continue to be the recommended vaccine. This vaccine also contains a small amount of a part of the Hib bacteria attached to a protein. PedvaxHIB is a three dose schedule and HbOC is a four dose schedule. The Hib vaccine may be combined with hepatitis B vaccine.

Possible side effects of Hib vaccine

Hib vaccines are very safe. Mild swelling, redness and pain at the injection site have been reported in up to 5% of children who receive a Hib vaccine. Fever and irritability are uncommon. More serious reactions to Hib vaccines have not been reported.