Hib is a vaccine-preventable disease, but it’s still circulating throughout the world, and still pops up in the U.S. every now and then due to inadequate vaccination rates. Minnesota, for example, saw 5 cases of Hib in 2008, the most since 1992. (Normally the state may not see any, or at the most, one or two cases a year.) Three of the babies, including a 7-month-old who died form the disease, had not been immunized. Of the remaining two, one was too young to be fully immunized, and one had an immune deficiency that kept them form being vaccinated. (Manning, 2-16-2009)

What is Hib?

Hib meningitis is a type of inflammation in the brain caused by a bacterium referred to as Haemophilus Influenzae type b.

The dangers of Hib
Before the vaccine for I lib was introduced, 20,000 children under the age of 5 developed severe Hib disease each year. Of these, 1,000 died and up to 30% of those infected were left with permanent neurological damage, such as mental retardation, blindness or deafness. So each and every year, the lives of around 7,000 children were either taken or ruined by this communicable infection.

The Hib vaccine

When the vaccine for Hib became routinely used in 1991, it “was like an overnight miracle,” says Kristen Ehresmann, immunization program manager for the Minnesota Dept. of Health. Rates of severe Hib dropped 99% virtually overnight, to less than one in 100,000 children nationally. (Manning, 2-16-2019) The Hib vaccine is given to children at 2, 4 and 6 months, with a booster dose at 15 months.

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