It is widely known that one of the best methods to prevent acquiring an infectious disease is to vaccinate yourselves against them. Fortunately, a Haemophilus influenzae vaccine is available. In fact, these have been manufactured since the early nineties, but there is still a disparity in its distribution globally. A great majority of the developed nations have access to the vaccine, but only eight percent of the least-developed countries have been immunized.
The Haemophilus influenzae vaccine is a conjugate vaccine. This means that an antigen (a part of the bacteria that is capable of activating an immune response) is attached to a carrier protein. This vaccine was previously available in polysaccharide and combination forms, but it was found that the conjugate vaccine produced the greatest immune response.
There have been various researches demonstrating its effectiveness in preventing disease. In fact, it has decreased the incidence of Haemophilus influenzae disease from 40 per 100,000 (in 1987) to approximately 1 per 100,000 (in 2000), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is reported to be able to prevent disease in at least ninety-five percent of children immunized – clearly a testament to its clinical efficacy. The Haemophilus influenzae vaccine is able to prevent bacteremia, pneumonia, and meningitis due to the mentioned organism.
There are minor side effects associated with using the Haemophilus influenzae vaccine. These include redness, pain, or swelling at the site of injection. These may be seen in as high as thirty percent of patients immunized, but all these effects will subside in a matter of days. There have also been reported serious side effects, such as hypersensitivity reactions, but these are isolated cases and are extremely rare.
The right time in administering the Haemophilus influenzae vaccine might vary depending on guidelines of different countries, but health organizations have generally agreed upon the age and intervals in which children must be immunized. The first shot of the Haemophilus influenzae vaccine can be given to infants less than two months of age.
Afterwards, another dose must be given within two to six months of age. Yet another booster dose must be administered within twelve to fifteen months of age to complete the immunization record. Three doses of the vaccine will greatly increase the chances of acquiring immunity to Haemophilus influenzae.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of data with regards to the efficacy of this vaccine in developing and least-developed countries. This is because not all children have access to this therapy. Indeed, this vaccine is deemed to be more costly than the other standard vaccines to be given during childhood, thus most developing nations are having a difficult time distributing this in their health care system. However, there are current projects that aim to subsidize its costs to promote universal access to Haemophilus influenzae vaccine.
It must be noted that the only Haemophilus influenzae vaccine available is for the type b strain. Diseases due to other strains, as well as the nontypable strains, will not be covered by immunization with this vaccine.