The Hib vaccine and the Meningococcal vaccine are two vaccines that parents are quite confused about. Many parents wonder if they should give both the Hib and the Meningococcal vaccine – or if giving just one of them is sufficient. Many questions are also asked about the age at which the Hib vaccine and the Meningococcal vaccine should be given.
In this article renowned pediatrician Dr Ravi Chander gives crystal clear answers to all the commonly asked questions about Hib vaccine and Meningococcal vaccine. Read on for FAQs on Hib vaccine and Meningococcal vaccine.
About Dr Ravi Chander
Dr B Ravi Chander. MBBS, MD (Paeds) is pediatrician with over 30 years of professional experience as a pediatrician and an equal number of years as faculty in Pediatrics. He is currently Professor and Vice Principal at MVJ Medical college & Research Hospital, Bangalore. Dr Ravi Chander is instructor in various courses in Pediatrics and Examiner of MD/DCH for many universities.He has a special interest in Infectious and Respiratory Medicine.
Detailed article continues below the video
What is the Hib Vaccine ?
The Hib vaccine is a vaccine that is used to protect children against a deadly bacteria called H.influenzae
What is H.influenzae?
Haemophilus influenzae,is a bacteria that can cause many different infections. The infections can range from mild to severe. Mild infections are infections like ear infections and severe infections are diseases, like bloodstream infections.
The most dangerous infections happen when the H.influenzae bacteria invade the sterile parts of the body – i.e. the parts of the body that are normally free from germs These serious infections are most common in children below 5 years of age.
Some of the serious infections that are caused by H. influenzae are meningitis (an infection of the outer covering of the brain) bacteraemia (an infection of the blood stream) Pneumonia (lung infection), Epiglottitis (swelling of the throat that can stop breathing) Infectious arthritis (infection of the joints) and Cellulitis (a serious skin infection).
The severe infections require treatment in the hospital, and can sometimes result in death.
Why is Hib vaccine required?
Since H.influenzae cause diseases that can cause serious infections that can lead to death and disability – especially in children below 5 years of age, the Hib vaccine is given to children to keep them safe from these infections. The Hib vaccine has been available for the last thirty years and has become very popular. In most countries it has been included as a compulsory vaccine in the vaccine schedules for children.
How is the Hib vaccine administered?
The Hib vaccine is generally conjugated with the DPT vaccine and given as a Quadrivalent vaccine.
It is also available as a pentavalent vaccine in which case it is combined with Hepatitis B vaccine. Most parents are familiar with Pentavac or Pentavalent vaccines. Various brands are available
Should I give my child the Hib vaccine?
One of the commonest questions that parents ask is – “Should I give my child the Hib vaccine?” The answer to that question is “YES”.
The Hib vaccine is a relatively safe vaccine and a good vaccine to give Most countries which have adopted this vaccine have eradicated this dreaded disease of children – particularly in less than 5 years of age by using this vaccine
Is Hib vaccine the same as Meningococcal vaccine?
There is a lot of confusion about whether the Hib vaccine and the Meningococcal vaccine are the same and whether both should be given or if any one of them is sufficient.
The very clear-cut answer to this questions is – No. The Meningococcal vaccine is used to prevent another brain disease caused by another bacteria called Meningococcus. The meningococcal vaccine does not prevent infections caused by H.influenzae and the Hib vaccine does not prevent infections caused by Meningococcus.
Also Read What is BCG vaccination for Babies?
What does Meningococcus cause?
Meningococcus causes a spectrum of infections called the meningococcal diseases. The illnesses caused by meningococcus also called Neisseria meningitidis are often severe and can be deadly. The infections by meningococcus are infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and infections of the bloodstream (bacteraemia or septicaemia).
Meningococcal infections typically occur in slightly older children – that is children who are 10 years or older. This means that unlike infections caused by H.influenzae – Meningococcal infections are typically infections that occur in adolescents.
Should I give my child the Meningococcal vaccine?
Because of the confusion between the Hib and the Meningococcal vaccine – many parents ask the question “Should I give my child the Meningococcal vaccine?” Or “Do I need to give my child both the Hib and the Meningococcal vaccine?”
The answer to that question is that – because meningococcal infections are typically infections that affect adolescents the Meningococcal vaccine is classically given at a later age.
In most Western counties – they insist that the Meningococcal vaccine be given to children when they enter college.
So, if you have a college going child who is planning to go to abroad – particularly to the USA – they may insist on giving this vaccine
So the Meningococcal vaccine is not a routine vaccine prescribed in India. You will have to talk to your doctor to see if your child deserves the vaccine. Not only because he may not require the vaccine, but also because the cost of the vaccine is really stiff. So ask the doctor whether your child needs the vaccine or not