Easy-to-read medicine information about Haemophilus influenza type B vaccine – what it is, when it is given and possible side effects.
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What is Hib vaccine?
Haemophilus influenza type B vaccine (commonly called Hib vaccine) is used to prevent infections that are caused by the bacteria (bug) Haemophilus influenzae type B. Haemophilus influenzae is the name of a group of bacteria that can cause mild to very serious illness. The most common strain is type B (also called Hib). Hib can cause a range of infections from mild ear infections to serious bloodstream infections or meningitis. Find out more about Haemophilus influenzae.
- Vaccination is the best method for preventing infection and reducing the seriousness of illness if you become infected. Vaccination against Hib is 90–100% effective in decreasing the risk of disease up to 6 years of age.
- The vaccine works by causing your body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against the bacteria.
- You cannot get Hib disease from the vaccine, as it does not contain live, active bacteria.
- Hib vaccine is part of the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule and is offered free to babies. It is also offered free to children and adults with a weakened immune system, or those who have had their spleen removed, who are at high risk of Hib disease.
- In New Zealand there are 3 different brands of Hib vaccine – Infanrix-hexa®, Hiberix® and Act-HIB®.
What is Hib disease?
- Hib disease is infection caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae. These bacteria live in the nose and throat of most healthy people without causing illness. They are easily passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing and close contact.
- Hib disease can cause a range of infections from mild ear infections to serious bloodstream infections or meningitis.
- Not everyone who catches Hib bacteria gets sick from it, but those most at risk of serious disease are:
- children under 5 years of age
- infants attending day care
- people living in a large or crowded household
- people living with preschool or school-aged siblings.
Read more about Hib disease.
How effective is Hib vaccine?
Vaccination is the best method for preventing Hib disease and reducing the seriousness of illness if you become infected. Vaccination against Hib is 90–100% effective in decreasing the risk of disease in children up to 6 years of age.
When is Hib vaccine given?
Hib vaccine is free as part of the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule for babies at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months (Infanrix-hexa). A booster dose of Hiberix is given at 15 months of age. Children are not fully protected until they’ve had all 4 doses. If your child misses these dates, they can have catch-up Hib vaccines. Talk to your doctor or nurse about this. Read more about childhood immunisation.
Some children, teenagers and adults with weakened immune systems who are at risk of Hib disease may be eligible for revaccination. Check with your doctor or nurse about their eligibility.
How is Hib vaccine given?
Hib vaccine is given by injection into a muscle such as the muscle on your mid thigh or upper arm.
Possible side effects
Like all medicines, the Hib vaccine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.
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Where can I get vaccinated?
The best place to go for vaccinations is your family medical clinic. They have your medical records and can check to see if you’ve already had a particular vaccination. Either your doctor or a nurse can give the vaccination.
If you don’t have a family doctor, you can go to one of the after-hour medical clinics. Ring them first to make sure they can help you with the vaccination you need.
You can find a clinic near you on the Healthpoint website. Put in your address and region, and under Select a service, click on GPs/Accident & Urgent Medical Care.
Vaccines on the National Immunisation Schedule are free. Other vaccines are funded only for people at particular risk of disease. You can choose to pay for vaccines that you are not eligible to receive for free.
The following links have more information on Hib vaccine.
- Haemophilus inﬂuenzae type b (Hib) disease Immunisation Handbook 2017, NZ