Hib Disease and the Vaccine (Shot) to Prevent It

Male doctor with a stethoscope listens to a child’s heartbeat, as the mother talks to doctor.

Doctors recommend that your child get 4 doses of the Hib vaccine for best protection. Your child will need one dose at each of the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months (for some brands)
  • 12 through 15 months

Fact Sheet for Parents

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Español: Enfermedad por Hib

The best way to protect against Hib disease is by getting the Hib vaccine. Doctors recommend that all children get the vaccine.

Why should my child get the Hib shot?

The Hib vaccine:

  • Protects your child from Hib disease, which can cause lifelong disability and be deadly.
  • Protects your child from the most common type of Hib disease, meningitis (an infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord).
  • Keeps your child from missing school or child care (and keeps you from missing work to care for your sick child).

Is the Hib shot safe?

Yes. The Hib vaccine is very safe, and it is effective at preventing Hib disease. Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. Most children don’t have any side effects from the vaccine.

What are the side effects?

When side effects do occur, they are usually mild and last 2 or 3 days. They include:

  • Redness, swelling, warmth, or pain where the shot was given
  • Fever

What is Hib disease?

Hib disease is a serious illness caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Babies and children younger than 5 years old are most at risk for Hib disease. It can cause lifelong disability and be deadly.

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What are the symptoms of Hib disease?

Hib disease causes different symptoms depending on which part of the body it affects.

The most common type of Hib disease is meningitis. This is an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord. It causes the following:

  • High fever
  • Confusion
  • Headache or stiff neck
  • Pain from bright lights
  • Poor eating and drinking, low alertness, or vomiting (in babies)

Hib disease can also cause the following:

  • Throat swelling that makes it hard to breathe
  • Joint infection
  • Skin infection
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)
  • Bone infection

Is it serious?

Hib disease is very serious. 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.

How does Hib bacteria spread?

Hib bacteria spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Usually, the Hib bacteria stay in a person’s nose and throat and do not cause illness. But if the bacteria spread into the lungs or blood, the person will get very sick.

Where can I learn more about the Hib shot and my child?

To learn more about the Hib vaccine, talk to your child’s doctor, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.cdc. gov/vaccines/parentsExternal.

For more in-depth information about Hib disease, visit www.cdc.gov/hi-disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend all children receive their vaccines according to the recommended schedule.

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Page last reviewed: November 10, 2014