Vaccination Lessons: The HIB Vaccine. And Aluminum. Because We Cannot Discuss One Without The Other.


The HIB vaccine is recommended by the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics) to be administered at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 months.

It is used to treat Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (henceforth referred to as HIB – because I just can’t type that phrase more than once a day.)

HIB is serious. It causes meningitis, blood infections, bone infections, and pneumonia. It is transmitted like the common cold, and most cases, it remains in the nose, ears, or throat and mimics the common cold in that manner as well. The aforementioned serious infections are actually quite rare. The fatality rate is 5%. 25% have residual brain damage.

HIB is not common. There are only 25 cases per year, almost all under age 5, and mostly in the age bracket of 2 and under.  It is rarely seen past age 3. HOWEVER, before the vaccine was introduced in the 80s, there were 20,000 cases of serious HIB per year. That’s not the simple ear infection/sore throat kind.

Side effects from this vaccine are mostly very safe (fever, fussiness, redness, and swelling) but can also include Guillain-Barre syndrome and/or serious HIB infection.

The serious HIB infection is caused by the vaccine, but it is not the vaccine that infected them. For five days after the vaccine is given, the body is unable to fight off the real HIB bacteria. So, simply keep your baby at home from daycare and you should be fine. Especially since HIB is so rare these days.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is when the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system, causing weakness and paralysis, which eventually wear off. But intensive care is needed for all the body’s systems that shut down in the meantime. Very scary for a baby. However, although it has been reported after some vaccines, it has never been *proven* that there is a connection between the two. Some studies suggest that when tetanus is present in a vaccine (such as it is in the HIB vaccine), it can logically be assumed that Guillain-Barre is a threat because of the way tetanus typically attacks a person’s nervous system. But then, just when you think you’ve got it figured out, you find that Guillain-Barre syndrome can strike for no reason at all.

Anything controversial about the vaccine?

In one out of the three brands available, there are controversial levels of aluminum. The guilty brand is PedVaxHIB. The aluminum-free brands are ActHIB and HibTITER.

And if you want to be absolutely sure that you don’t get Guillain-Barre syndrome, you better go with a tetanus-free vaccine, right? That eliminates ActHIB.

(But why do they put the tetanus in the vaccine, Beth?! WHY?!)

(Because they have to bond the HIB sugar (the sugars the form the outer coating of the HIB bacteria) with something and they decided that a chemical produced by the tetanus bacterium (a toxoid, to be exact) was the best available option.)

So, between the aluminum and the tetanus, that leaves HibTITER as the only safe brand, right? Well, it doesn’t use tetanus, it uses diphtheria. And I haven’t read anything about serious side-effects from vaccines that use diphtheria toxoids. So this may be the best option, yes.

All that said, I must also tell you that HIB has the safest side effect profile of all vaccines.

If it’s so “safe” then why preach about aluminum to us?

Glad you asked!

When given more than 10 micrograms per day through IV solutions, the bones and brains of premature babies accumulated aluminum at toxic levels. The FDA has required a daily limit of 25 micrograms of aluminum in nutritional IVs.

The HIB vaccine has 225 micrograms of aluminum.


“It helps the vaccines work better.”

Now, all aluminum toxicity studies were performed using IV solutions, which were injected right into the blood. Vaccines are injected into muscle and tissue, then diffuse slowly into the bloodstream. So pediatricians keep using vaccines with aluminum, thinking, hoping, praying that it diffuses at such a slow rate that it will not be an issue.


And 225 micrograms is nothing compared to some of the combination shots that can contain up to 1500 micrograms.

In several studies on animals, the aluminum caused brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s disease. And, while there have been no studies on healthy babies, studies on premature babies showed impaired neurological and mental development.

So my conclusion about the HIB vaccine:

Benjamin has already received two doses of this. He is scheduled to receive a third soon (he has yet to have a six-month appointment.) Given the information I have gathered, I have decided that he will get the HIB vaccine if he can receive the HibTITER brand. (And I don’t know why that should be a problem.)


All information taken from The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears.

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