This immunization is designed to prevent diseases caused by Haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB), a bacteria responsible for a range of serious “invasive” diseases including meningitis with potential brain damage and epiglottitis with airway obstruction.
More than 90% of all HIB infections occur in children 5 years of age or less; the peak attack rate is at 6-12 months of age.
The HIB vaccine is usually given at 2, 4 and 6 months of age and a final booster is given at 12-15 months of age. HIB vaccine rarely causes severe reactions. The HIB vaccine has almost eradicated the disease. Before the vaccine, some 20,000 cases of HIB invasive disease in preschool children were reported every year in the U.S. compared to less than 300 cases after the advent of the vaccine.
The HIB vaccine is a “conjugate” vaccine. It joins (“conjugates”) sugars from the HIB bacteria with a protein from another bacteria. The protein stimulates the baby’s immature immune cells so they produce antibodies to the HIB sugars, protecting the child from HIB infection.
The prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research was given in 1996 to David H. Smith, Porter W. Anderson Jr., John B. Robbins and Rachel Schneerson for their work in developing a vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type B.
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