Hib


Last updated Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) is a bacterial infection which can cause a variety of symptoms, from mild coughs to meningitis, arthritis and pneumonia. The more serious infections are caused by the encapsulated form of which there are six types, types A-F. The vaccine is for type B, as this type most commonly causes invasive infections. Hib mainly affects adults with underlying conditions according to the NHS, though ONS data shows that on average 0-2 children die of it per year.  The risk is low but Hib meningitis is a possibility, of which there are 20-30 cases per year. The former Health Protection Agency said “After Hib vaccine was introduced marked reductions were observed in the number of cases of Hib disease in children under five years of age. Disease rates also fell in older children and adults who had not been immunised because the number of children carrying Hib bacteria, and therefore able to infect other people, fell.”[2] (my italics) So the disease rate fell in both the vaccinated and unvaccinated and the HPA puts it down to a herd immunity effect. But we know from plenty of anecdotal evidence that doctors are much less likely to diagnose a disease for which a child has been vaccinated. A study of children in the West Midlands published in the British Medical Journal in 2000 compared active and passive surveillance data for Hib infections before and after the vaccine was introduced. [1] They found significant under-reporting in just that age group that was supposed to be protected by the newly introduced vaccine, supporting the suspicion that because they had the vaccine, these children’s cases were not reported. However, the difference, though significant at 23%, does not entirely explain the fall in reported cases. Parents considering their vaccination decision might…

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