Hib Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know

Key Facts

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) can cause serious illness and death in babies and children younger than 5 years old. CDC recommends Hib vaccination for all children younger than 5 years old in the United States.

Who Should Get a Hib Vaccine?

CDC recommends Hib vaccination for all children younger than 5 years old. Older children and adults usually do not need a Hib vaccine, unless they have certain medical conditions.

Talk to your or your child’s doctor if you have questions about Hib vaccines.

Young Children

Children younger than 5 years old need multiple shots of a Hib vaccine. CDC recommends shots at the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months (if needed; depends on brand)
  • 12 through 15 months

Older Children and Adults

Older children and adults usually do not need a Hib vaccine. CDC recommends Hib vaccination for two groups of older children and adults:

Who Should Not Get It?

Because of age or health conditions, some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them. Read the guidelines below and ask your or your child’s doctor for more information.

Babies younger than 6 weeks old should not get a Hib vaccine. In addition, tell the person who is giving you or your child a Hib vaccine if:

You or your child have had a life-threatening allergic reaction or have a severe allergy.

  • Anyone who had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a previous shot of a Hib vaccine should not get another shot.
  • Anyone with a severe allergy to any part of a Hib vaccine should not get this vaccine. Your or your child’s doctor can tell you about the vaccine’s ingredients.

You or your child are not feeling well.

  • People who have a mild illness, such as a cold, can probably get the vaccine. People who have a more serious illness should probably wait until they recover. Your or your child’s doctor can advise you.

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What Types of Hib Vaccine Are There?

The Food and Drug Administration licensed 5 Hib vaccines for use in the United States. Three of the vaccines protect against Hib disease only, while 2 vaccines include protection against other diseases. Your child will get multiple shots; the number depends on the brand given. Doctors can give the first shot as early as 6 weeks, if needed. Doctors can give any of the Hib-only vaccines to older children and adults that need Hib vaccination.

Hib-only Vaccines

A combination vaccine contains two or more vaccines in a single shot in order to decrease the number of shots given.

Combination Vaccines

  • Pentacel® [36 pages]: Doctors give four shots to children who are 2 through 18 months old. This vaccine protects against Hib disease, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and polio.
  • Vaxelis: Doctors give three shots to children who are 6 weeks through less than 1 year old. This vaccine protects against Hib disease, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, and hepatitis B.

How Well Do Hib Vaccines Work?


Vaccines that help protect against Hib disease work well, but cannot prevent all cases.

Studies show Hib vaccination protects

  • Nearly all (between 93 and 100 in 100) children from Hib disease

Protection decreases over time. Children need a shot between 12 and 15 months old to maintain high levels of protection during early childhood.

In Depth

Hib vaccines are highly effective in preventing Hib disease, including meningitis (inflammation (swelling) of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). Hib disease was once a leading cause of bacterial meningitis among U.S. children younger than 5 years old. Every year about 20,000 young children got serious Hib disease and about 1,000 died. More than half of the children who developed serious Hib disease were younger than one year old. Today, less than 50 cases of Hib disease occur each year in young children in the United States. Most of these cases are in children who did not get any or all recommended doses of Hib vaccine.

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What Are the Possible Side Effects?

Most people who get a Hib vaccine do not have any problems with it. With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own within a few days, but serious reactions are possible.

Mild Problems

Mild problems following Hib vaccination are uncommon. If they occur, they usually begin soon after you or your child receive the shot. They can last up to 2 or 3 days, and include:

  • Reactions where the doctor gave the shot
    • Redness
    • Warmth
    • Swelling
  • Fever

Problems that Could Happen after Getting Any Injected Vaccine

  • People sometimes faint after a medical procedure, including vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes can help prevent fainting, and injuries caused by a fall. Tell your doctor if you or your child:
    • Feels dizzy
    • Has vision changes
    • Has ringing in the ears
  • Some people get severe pain in the shoulder and have difficulty moving the arm where the doctor gave the shot. This happens very rarely.
  • Any medicine can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at about 1 in a million doses. These types of reactions would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
  • As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.

Get more information on possible side effects from vaccination.

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Where Can I Find Hib Vaccine?

Your doctor is usually the best place to receive recommended vaccines for you or your child.

Hib vaccine is part of the routine childhood immunization schedule. Therefore, the vaccine is regularly available for children at:

  • Pediatric offices
  • Family practice offices
  • Community health clinics
  • Public health departments

If your doctor does not have the Hib vaccine for adults, ask for a referral.

Hib vaccine may also be available for adults at:

  • Pharmacies
  • Workplaces
  • Community health clinics
  • Health departments
  • Other community locations such as schools and religious centers

Federally funded health centers can also provide services if you don’t have a regular source of health care. Locate one near you. You can also contact your state health department to learn more about where to get vaccines in your community.

When receiving any vaccine, ask the provider to record the vaccine in the state or local registry, if available. This helps healthcare professionals at future encounters know what vaccines you or your child has already received.

How Do I Pay for Hib Vaccine?

There are several ways to cover the cost of a Hib vaccine:

Private Health Insurance

Most private health insurance plans cover this vaccine. Check with your insurance provider for details on whether there is any cost to you and for a list of in-network vaccine providers.

Vaccines for Children Program

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program provides vaccines to children whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them. A child is eligible if they are younger than 19 years old and meets one of the following requirements:

  • Medicaid-eligible
  • Uninsured
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Underinsured (have health insurance that does not cover vaccines or does not cover certain vaccines)

If your child is VFC-eligible, ask if your healthcare professional is a VFC provider. For help in finding a VFC provider near you, contact your state or local health department’s VFC Program Coordinator, or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFOimage of phone (232-4636).

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