Hib is a bacteria that lives in our upper respiratory tract and stomach. By the time most children are 5 years old, they have had HIB. The majority will not get meningitis or any other serious disease.
Fully breast fed children are protected against Hib. Breast milk provides a full spectrum of commensal bacteria and primes the immune system in the right way. Good commensal bacteria allow a child to develop natural immunity to Hib and to other meningitis types.
The vaccine may make a specific immunity to one type, but then you have may have destroyed broad spectrum immunity. This might leave the child susceptible to the other types they were naturally immune to before.
This is from the CDC Pink Book:
The most striking feature of Hib disease is age-dependent susceptibility. Hib disease is not common beyond 5 years of age. Passive protection of some infants is provided by transplacentally acquired maternal IgG antibodies and breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life. In the prevaccine era peak attack rates occurred at 6–7 months of age, declining thereafter. The presumed reason for this age distribution is the acquisition of immunity to Hib with increasing age.
HIB was on the decline in the 1980’s, before a vaccine was recommended for use.
Hib was placed on the CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule in 1993, and in turn, state to state mandates began. Hib didn’t become a nationally notifiable disease until 1991. According to the CDC HIB VIS sheet (the parent vaccine information statement):
Before Hib vaccine, about 20,000 children in the United States under 5 years old got severe Hib disease each year and nearly 1,000 people died. (emphasis mine)
It is a misleading version because if you then read the CDC Pink Book:
In the early 1980s, it was estimated that about 20,000 cases occurred annually in the United States, primarily among children younger than 5 years of age (40–50 cases per 100,000 population). The incidence of invasive Hib disease began to decline ramatically in the late 1980s, coincident with licensure of conjugate Hib vaccines, and has declined by more than 99% compared with the prevaccine era. (emphasis mine)
Unfortunately, children are at a greater risk of getting Hib disease right after vaccination.
Studies from Science News warned of increased susceptibility to the disease during the first 7 days after vaccination. Even the AAP has warned doctors to look for signs of the disease following vaccination (AAP policy statement). Several studies found that Hib vaccinated children are up to 6 times more likely than non Hib vaccinated children to contract Hib during the first week following vaccination. (Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal and JAMA). In another study, children who got Hib 3 weeks after their vaccination, 70% developed Meningitis. Additional research shows that antibody levels will decline rather than increase following Hib vaccination.
Stay tuned for more on HIB later….
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