For Immediate Release: March 12, 2009
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON –The Vermont Department of Health is asking parents, pediatricians and health care providers to check Hib (haemophilus influenzae type B) vaccine immunization records for infants and young preschool aged children to make sure they are up to date.
Hib vaccine is part of the Vermont immunization schedule, with three doses recommended by 7 months of age. A fourth Hib booster shot, recommended by 15 months of age, has been deferred nationwide since 2007 due to a national shortage of the vaccine. Three doses provides a high level of protection against the disease. Hib can cause severe bacterial infections that occur most often in infants and young children and often requires hospitalization.
The Minnesota Department of Health reported five cases of Hib infection in 2008, and one death of a child. Three of the five children who were infected, including the child who died, were unvaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the five cases in Minnesota are the most in a single year since 1992, when Hib vaccine was first available, and the first recorded infant death from Hib since 1991.
“The report of the infant death in Minnesota is tragic and a reminder that Hib is a severe bacterial infection that can result in fatal illness if children are not immunized,” said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, MD. “Hib is a safe and effective vaccine that should be part of every child’s health care.”
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services issued a health advisory on March 9, 2009 after a 3-year-old who had not received the full series of Hib vaccinations developed Hib disease. The child, according to the alert, was hospitalized in intensive care, and is currently recovering.
Immunization rates for Hib (three primary doses of vaccine) in Vermont in infants 19-35 months of age has been between 94 percent (2007) and 97.5 percent (2005).
For more information on the Vermont Immunization schedule and childhood vaccines, visit healthvermont.gov.