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There are 6 known types of Haemophilus influenzae (a to f) however there is only a vaccine against type b.


Hib - What is it?

Haemophilus influenzae is a bacterium that is naturally found in the upper respiratory tract. There are six known types of haemophilus influenzae bacteria, type b is almost always responsible for serious infection in young children, usually in those less than 2 years old. It can cause serious life-threatening infections such as pneumonia (lung infection), meningitis (inflammation around the brain) and epiglottitis (swelling of the lid that covers the windpipe).

Hib - What are the symptoms?

It can take between 2 and 4 days after infection for symptoms to develop.

Symptoms for Hib disease will be related to the part of the body that is infected. Symptoms may include:

  • meningitis (inflammation around the brain) -   high fever, sensitivity to light, neck stiffness. Infants may appear to be lethargic (limp, loss of alertness), irritable, or feed poorly
  • pneumonia (lung infection) - fever, coughing, chills, drowsiness chest pain and difficulty breathing
  • epiglottitis (swelling of the lid that covers the windpipe)- breathing and swallowing difficulties, high fever and drooling

If left untreated, meningitis, pneumonia and epiglottitis can lead to lifelong disability or death.

This is not a full list of symptoms that can occur following a Hib infection. Please speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about Hib.

Hib - How is it spread?

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacteria live in the upper respiratory tract of most healthy people without causing illness – these people are known as carriers of the bacteria. Hib is spread by respiratory droplets (via coughing or sneezing) from an infected person or a carrier. When the bacteria enters the lungs or bloodstream, it causes serious disease.

Hib - Who is at risk?

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is mainly a childhood disease, with children less than 2 years of age at the greatest risk of infection. After 5 years of age, children start to gain immunity through natural contact with the disease.

Other people may be at risk of Hib infection. Please discuss your individual circumstances with your doctor.

Hib – Vaccination

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccination is recommended and provided free for children as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). It is usually given at 2, 4 and 6 with a booster at 12 months of age.

Other individuals may also be at risk of Hib disease, and vaccination may be recommended. Please discuss your individual circumstances with your doctor.

It is important to complete the recommended course of vaccinations to help protect against Hib infection and help maintain immunity.

In Australia, vaccination against Hib is provided in combination vaccines that also help to protect against other diseases.

Hib – Treatment

Antibiotics are used to treat Hib infection. Hospitalisation may be required depending on the severity of disease.

For information about Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) immunisation in your area, contact your State or Territory Health Department or doctor.


Some side effects may be experienced following vaccination. Please discuss any side effects or concerns with your healthcare professional.




AUS/VAC/0037/15. Date of approval: April 2015.