Measles; Rubella; Tetanus; Vaccinations; Whooping cough
Haemophilus influenzae (H. influenzae) type b is a bacterium, which, despite its name, is entirely different from the viruses that cause influenza (the flu). Before vaccination, H. influenzae type b (Hib) was the most common cause of childhood bacterial meningitis, killing 600 American children every year and leaving others deaf, mentally retarded, or epileptic. It is rarely troublesome for adults, although it can be dangerous for anyone with chronic lung disease and those susceptible to infections.
Two equally effective inactivated bacterial vaccines (commonly called Hib vaccines) are available for H. influenzae type b. All children under 5 should be vaccinated against this bacterium. The vaccine is administered as an injection at 2 and 4 months. Depending on the vaccination preparation, a third shot in the series is administered at 6 months. A booster is required at some time between 12 and 15 months of age.
The Hib vaccine may benefit older people who have had their spleen removed or have illnesses that put them at risk for pneumonia, including sickle cell disease, leukemia, and HIV infection.
NOTE: In December 2007, one Hib vaccine manufacturer (Merck) had to cease production of the vaccine. Production of the Merck vaccine is not expected to resume until mid-2009. As a result, a Hib vaccine shortage currently exists. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics therefore recommend that the booster dose in children 12-15 months of age be deferred, except for children at high risk for complication from Hib. These children include cancer patients, children with immune-compromising conditions (such as HIV infection), children with non-working spleen, and American Indian and Alaska Native children.
The initial 3-dose series at ages 2, 4, and 6 months is not affected by this situation, and all children should be given the series. As of the writing of this report, no increase in Hib cases was seen as a result of deferring the booster dose in healthy children.
Side effects of the Hib vaccine include redness and pain at the injection site, moderate fever, and, in rare cases, weakness, nausea, and dizziness.
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