DTP-Hib Immunisation

A dose of DTP-Hib vaccine is given to babies at aged two, three and four months (the primary course). Three years later a 'pre-school booster' of DTP (without Hib) is given. 10 years after that a 'school leaver booster' of just DT is given.

What does DTP-Hib mean?

DTP stands for Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis. Hib stands for Haemophilus influenza b. These are four different types of bacteria. The vaccines used to immunise against these four bacteria are all combined into one injection.

Timetable for DTP-Hib immunisation

(Note: when Hib was first introduced in the UK in 1992 it had to be given as a separate injection to DTP. These two vaccines are now combined into a single injection for the primary course.)

Who should NOT receive DTP-Hib vaccine?

Are there any side-effects from the DTP-Hib vaccine?

You can give paracetamol mixture or ibuprofen if necessary to ease pain and fever. Occasionally, a baby may cry or be irritable for a few hours following immunisation. If the irritability appears to be extreme or lasts more than a few hours (uncommon), seek a doctor's advice.

How serious are the diseases prevented by DTP-Hib immunisation?

This is a serious infection of the throat and lungs caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. The bacteria also make a poison (toxin) which can affect the heart and nervous tissue.

Introduction of the immunisation in 1940 reduced this illness dramatically. In 1940 there were 46,281 cases in the UK with 2,480 deaths. By 1957 there were 37 cases and 6 deaths and from 1986-1991 there were only 13 cases notified.

This is an infection caused by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani. It is a serious illness which attacks the nervous system which can produce spasm of muscles often leading to death. The bacteria which cause tetanus live in the soil. Most infections are caught from cuts, particularly dirty wounds. Even tiny cuts such as thorn scratches can introduce sufficient tetanus bacteria to be lethal. Tetanus is not transmitted from person to person and needs a cut in the skin to be introduced into the body.

Deaths from tetanus in the UK are mainly in people over the age of 45 years who have not been immunised as immunisation was introduced in the 1950s.

Pertussis (whooping cough)
This is a highly infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. It is passed from person to person by coughing. It causes a distressing and prolonged coughing illness which can lead to complications causing brain damage and even death. Before the vaccine was introduced there were often over 100,000 cases per year in England and Wales, but after it was introduced in the 1950's the rate fell dramatically to about 2,000 cases a year.

Haemophilus influenza
This is a bacterium which comes in several types. Different types of the bacterium cause infections such as ear infections and chest infections. However the Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) is a particularly nasty type. This can cause meningitis and epiglottitis (a very serious disease of the throat). It can also cause infective arthritis, infection in bones, and pneumonia.

These serious illnesses caused by Hib are uncommon under the age of three months. Unless immunised, they become more common towards the first birthday. After the age of four years they become uncommon again. So, the 'at-risk' time for infections caused by this bacteria is from three months to four years. Hib immunisation was introduced into the UK routinely in 1992.

Further information

Information on immunisation from the NHS aimed at the general public - www.immunisation.org.uk

Immunisation Against Infectious Disease (The Green Book) - www.doh.gov.uk/greenbook/
From the Department of Health. Aimed at health professionals but of interest to all.

© EMIS and PIP 2004   Updated February 2004   PRODIGY Validated