Common questions about Hib

What is Hib (haemophilus influenza type B)?

Hib – short for haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) – is a bacterial infection that can cause meningitis (a life-threatening infection of the lining around your child’s spinal cord and the brain), pneumonia, swelling of the throat, deafness, and even death.

Before immunization, Hib was the most common cause of childhood bacterial meningitis, which is a very serious disease.

Although Hib is short for haemophilus influenza type b, it should not be confused with influenza. Hib is completely different than influenza or “the flu.” 

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What causes Hib?

Hib is spread through an infected person coughing and sneezing. Children who touch toys, food items, dishes, or other objects that have been sneezed or coughed on by someone with Hib can also be infected.

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What are the symptoms of Hib?

The different illnesses that Hib causes have different symptoms.

Symptoms of meningitis include:

  • fever
  • stiff neck
  • sudden fever drowsiness
  • irritability or fussiness
  • intense headache
  • vomiting
  • a skin rash that spreads rapidly and begins as reddish/purplish spots that don't disappear when pressed

Symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • fever
  • difficulty breathing
  • a cough with rust or green-coloured phlegm (mucus)
  • chills
  • teeth chattering
  • chest pain
  • fast breathing and heartbeat
  • bluish lips and fingernails from lack of oxygen in the blood
  • feeling confused or strange
  • feeling very tired

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What can happen to my child if he or she gets Hib?

Hib can cause bacterial meningitis, which is a very serious disease, particularly for children. About one in 20 children with Hib-caused bacterial meningitis will die, even with treatment.

Among those who live, about one in three of these children will have permanent brain damage.

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Is there a treatment or cure for Hib?

Antibiotics can be used to help treat some Hib-caused infections, but Hib-related infections can be very serious, and treatment might not help. For example, even with treatment, one in 20 children who get bacterial meningitis caused by Hib will die. Among those who live, about one in three of these children will have permanent brain damage.

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What is the name of the immunization that includes protection against Hib?

The DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine will protect – or “arm” – your child against Hib.

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At what age is it recommended that my child be immunized against Hib?

To be protected against Hib, your child needs multiple doses of the DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine, at the ages and stages recommended in the routine schedule.

Your child is recommended to receive the DTaP-IPV-Hib at two months of age, followed by a dose at four months of age, at six months of age, and at 18 months of age. 

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Are there side effects to the Hib vaccine?

Side effects of the Hib vaccine are usually very mild, and temporary. Your child may have a slight fever, be fussy, sleepier or have less appetite than usual, and his or her arm or thigh might be a bit red or sore where the needle went in. These side effects are very common, usually happen about 12 to 24 hours after the immunization, and usually go away within a few days. For tips on managing symptoms following immunization, click here.

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Is Hib called any other names?

Hib is short for haemophilus influenza type b. Although “influenza” is part of the name, Hib is not the same as influenza, or the flu. Hib is completely different than influenza or “the flu.”

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