Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine

What is it for?

This vaccine protects against serious infections such as pneumonia and meningitis that are caused by a particular type of bacteria called Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

The Hib bacteria can live normally in your sinuses, nose, and mouth (parts of the upper respiratory tract), but they can also cause serious illnesses including pneumonia and meningitis (an infection of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord). Hib is not a form of influenza (flu).

Hib infection is mainly spread by breathing in droplets containing the bacteria, which are produced when someone who has the infection coughs or sneezes, or by coming into direct contact with mucous from the nose or throat of someone with the infection.

Hib infections can get worse quite rapidly and can be life-threatening.

Who should be vaccinated?

Children

Babies are given three Hib-containing vaccinations in their first 6 months of life as part of the National Immunisation Program schedule.

Some babies that are born prematurely may need to have an extra Hib vaccination to protect them against infection.

Children aged 2 months, 4 months and 6 months

Children aged 2 months, 4 months and 6 months will be vaccinated against Hib as part of a combined vaccine — a single injection that also protects against five other diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough (pertussis), and hepatitis B.

Children aged 1 year

The Hib-only vaccine is given to all toddlers at 12 months of age as a booster as part of the National Immunisation Program schedule.

Pregnant women

Your doctor may recommend that you have the Hib vaccine while you are pregnant if:

  • you are at risk of infection (e.g. if you have no spleen or problems with spleen function), OR
  • the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh the risk to you and your unborn baby of having the infection.

Read more about what vaccines you can have if you are pregnant.

Women who are breastfeeding

There is no known risk to your baby if you are vaccinated with the Hib vaccine while you are breastfeeding.

Women who are breastfeeding can be vaccinated with any vaccine except the yellow fever vaccine.

Who else may need vaccination?

A single dose of Hib vaccine is given to:

  • children who were fully vaccinated as an infant but lose their spleen when they are older
  • people who have no spleen or problems with spleen function
  • people who have a bone marrow transplant.

Your specialist will advise if you need this vaccine or not. Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or anyone in the groups listed above, will need to pay to be vaccinated.

Side effects

Common side effects of the Hib vaccine (that may affect 1 to 10 in every 100 people) include:

  • pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site; injection site reactions become milder with subsequent doses
  • fever (temperature higher than 38.5°C)
  • irritability, crying
  • drowsiness
  • vomiting.

Read more about vaccine side effects and safety.

Who can I ask about side effects?

If you’re concerned that you or your child may have had side effects related to a vaccine, seek medical advice. To report and discuss possible side effects, call the Adverse Medicines Events (AME) Line on 1300 134 237 from anywhere in Australia (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm AEST).

References

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