Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae Type B)

Hib disease used to be more common in the United States — about 20,000 children got serious Hib infections every year. Thanks to the vaccine, serious cases of Hib disease have dropped by more than 99% since 1991.

There are 2 types of vaccines that protect against Hib disease:

  • The Hib vaccine protects children and adults from Hib disease
  • The DTaP-IPV/Hib vaccine protects babies ages 2 through 18 months from Hib disease, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and polio

Why is the Hib vaccine important?

In infants and young children, Hib disease can be very serious. It can cause infections in different parts of the body — including the brain and lungs. These infections can lead to serious complications, and can even be deadly.

The Hib vaccine is the best way to protect your child from Hib disease.

What is Hib disease?

Hib disease is caused by a type of bacteria. It mostly affects children younger than 5 years, but adults with certain health conditions are also at increased risk for Hib disease.

Some people get the germs that cause Hib disease, but don’t get sick — these people are called “carriers.” But some people develop Hib disease, which can cause serious infections in different parts of the body, including:

  • Meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord)
  • Bacteremia (infection of the bloodstream)
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)
  • Epiglottitis (throat infection)

These infections can be very serious. For example, Hib meningitis causes brain damage or hearing loss in 1 in 5 children who survive it.

Hib bacteria spread through droplets in the air — like when someone who has the bacteria in their nose or throat coughs or sneezes. Learn more about Hib disease.

Who needs to get the Hib vaccine?

Infants and children age 5 and younger

All infants and children need the Hib vaccine as part of their routine vaccine schedule. They need either 3 or 4 doses, depending on which brand of the of Hib vaccine they get.

See the routine vaccination schedule for:

Children need doses of the vaccine at the following ages:

  • 2 months for the first dose
  • 4 months for the second dose
  • 6 months for the third dose (if they’re getting 4 doses)
  • 12 through 15 months for the booster (additional dose)

Children ages 2 through 18 months old can also get a combination vaccine that protects against Hib disease, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and polio. This vaccine is called the DTaP-IPV/Hib vaccine. Your child’s doctor can recommend the vaccine that’s right for your child.

Older children and adults

Most people age 5 years and older don’t need the Hib vaccine. But your doctor may recommend you get the Hib vaccine if you:

  • Have a damaged spleen or sickle cell disease
  • Have had a bone marrow transplant
  • Have HIV

Talk with your doctor about how to protect your family from Hib disease.

Who should not get the Hib vaccine?

Some people should not get the Hib vaccine, including:

  • Infants younger than 6 weeks
  • People who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the Hib vaccine in the past
  • People who have a serious allergy to any ingredient in the vaccine

If you’re sick, you may need to wait until you’re feeling better to get the Hib vaccine. And be sure to tell your doctor before getting vaccinated if you have any serious allergies.

What are the side effects of the Hib vaccine?

Side effects are usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include:

  • Redness, heat, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever

Like any medicine, there’s a very small chance that the Hib vaccine could cause a serious reaction. Keep in mind that getting the Hib vaccine is much safer than getting Hib disease. Learn more about vaccine side effects.

Where can I get more information about the Hib vaccine?

Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) have detailed information about recommended vaccines.

Get vaccinated

Getting vaccinated is easy. Vaccines are available at the doctor’s office and many pharmacies — and most are covered by insurance.

Find out how to get vaccinated.

Content created by Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP)
Content last reviewed