Injury Risks of Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib) Vaccines

Haemophilus Influenzae Type B ReactionsChildren receive many different vaccines early in life that protect them from severe illnesses. One of these vaccines prevents a child from infection by Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Hib is a bacteria that is spread from host to host through mucus or saliva, most often by coughing or sneezing, and saves tens of thousands of children per year from suffering serious or life-threatening complications of the infection.

What Is Haemophilus Influenzae Type B?

Hib is a naturally-occurring bacteria found in the lining of the nose and the back of the throat, and most adults have an immunity to Hib. A mother’s antibodies protect her infant while he or she is still in the womb, but these antibodies only last in the baby’s bloodstream for a few months after birth.

Hib infections in infants can lead to grave complications, including:

  • Meningitis. Hib may spread to the spinal cord and into the lining of the brain, resulting in meningitis. Children who contract meningitis suffer from fevers, neck pain, and fatigue, which can progress to paralysis, deafness, blindness, or death. Although meningitis can be caused by many different forms of bacteria, Hib was previously the most common cause of meningitis before the vaccine was developed.
  • Pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia is an infection in one or both of a patient’s lungs. As the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs become inflamed, they fill with fluid, making it difficult for the patient to breathe.
  • Cellulitis. Cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the skin tissue, typically begins with a small patch of redness or tenderness on the skin. As the infection spreads, the affected area grows outward and causes the patient to suffer fever, chills, and sweats.
  • Epiglottitis. Hib often causes inflammation and swelling, making infection of the epiglottis potentially fatal. The epiglottis is the flap of tissue that protects foreign objects from entering the windpipe—and when it is swollen, a patient may suffocate.
  • Arthritis. An infection in the joint, known as septic arthritis, results in extreme pain and mobility problems. Septic arthritis commonly occurs in the knees, but can also occur in the hips, ankles, wrists, shoulders, and other joints. The longer the infection goes untreated, the greater the likelihood of damage to the bones and cartilage.
  • Sepsis. The bacteria can spread through a person’s bloodstream, causing a widespread infection known as sepsis. Sepsis often begins with high fever and high heart rate, but quickly starts to impede blood flow to the brain, heart, and kidneys (septic shock). Severe sepsis can be fatal, as it often leads to organ failure, blood clots, and gangrene.

Known Reactions to Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib) Vaccines

The Hib vaccine was introduced in the 1990s and was created using a polysaccharide component of the Hib bacteria. The body reacts to the vaccine in the same way it would respond to the bacteria, triggering the immune system to create antibodies. These antibodies remain in the patient’s system, protecting him from future infection.

The Hib vaccine is given after a child is two months old, and administered in a series of three or four booster shots during infancy. Immunization is typically completed by a child’s first birthday and is usually not performed on adults or older children.

The Hib vaccine has not been linked to severe side effects, but has been known to result in:

  • Fever. Patients and families have reported low-grade fevers that last a few days after injection.
  • Shoulder pain. It is not uncommon for some children to suffer shoulder pain and soreness at the Hib vaccine injection site.
  • Combination reactions. The Hib vaccine is often given in combination with other vaccines, increasing the risk of adverse reactions or even allergic responses.

If your child has suffered severe side effects after immunization, you may be eligible for payment through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) or by filing a vaccine injury lawsuit. As a nationwide vaccine injury law firm, Shannon Law Group helps victims from every state get adequate compensation for their medical bills, lost income, and unnecessary suffering due to vaccination. Simply fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.