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Minnesota Child Dies from Lack of Hib Meningitis Vaccination

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

The death of a Minnesota child from who had not been vaccinated against Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B), has prompted health officials to remind parents that meningitis is still around, and that it can be deadly.

According to Kristen Ehresmann, RN, MPH, of the Minnesota Department of Health, "We had a death from a child who was unvaccinated. We want to encourage parents who have delayed or refused vaccination to reconsider. Hib vaccine not only protects your child, but also protects babies who have not completed their primary series or those who have immune compromise.

The CDC also warns that children should receive all of their basic Hib vaccinations. Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases says, "The situation in Minnesota might be isolated, or it might be the beginning of a trend in other places. We are working hard to determine which of these stories is the right one."

The current outbreak in Minnesota occurred in a five-month-old infant who had not yet completed the series of Hib vaccination. Another child had completed the vaccine, but had an immune deficiency. The other three cases, including the infant who died of Hib meningitis in Minnesota, were the result of two parents who refused to have their child vaccinated. One family was waiting until the child reached age five.

"Parents who wondered whether Hib vaccination is really necessary need to know the disease is still around. It is a very dangerous disease and we have a vaccine that can protect children. The situation where community protection kept unimmunized kids at low risk of disease does not appear to be holding," says Dr. Schuchat.

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A shortage of Hib vaccine may also be a contributing factor to the Minnesota meningitis outbreak. An analysis showed that eighteen percent of Minnesota children did not complete the Hib vaccine series. According to Minnesota state epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield, MD, "We interpret this as a shortage of vaccine. Providers did not have the vaccine in their offices."

Hib has caused at least one death from meningitis in Minnesota. Other possible outcomes of meningitis include deafness, brain and nerve damage.

Statistics show that before Hib vaccine was developed (1992), meningitis from Hib claimed the lives of approximately 20,000 children under age five in the United States. Symptoms include fever, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting. Meningitis progresses rapidly, and is spread by direct contact with respiratory secretions from kissing, coughing and sneezing. So far, no connection has been found to link the five Minnesota Hib meningitis cases.

Hib vaccine also prevents pneumonia and epiglottitis, a throat infection that can become severe enough to also cause death.

The resurgence of meningitis, evidenced by the recent outbreak in Minnesota, makes it important for parents make certain our children are protected.

Source: Atlanta (AP)

Haemophilus influenzae Serotype b (Hib) Disease



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Wow. I come to this late, but I am absolutely astounded that anti-vaxxers have the heart to make the death of this child a talking point for their scientifically illiterate campaign of misinformation. The basic facts are wrong in the first comment--three of the five children were intentionally unvaccinated. They were intentionally unvaccinated because people like you convinced the parents that they would be harming their children if they vaccinated them. LIke all good parents who want to protect their children, they did what they thought best. Now one pair of parents has lost their child. I lay this at your doorstep. The anti vaccine movement is leading to the death of children. I am sickened by this, and by your ability to turn this into a political talking point for your own movement. Shame on you.
In the late 80s, there was a HIB vaccine available that was given at 18 months. By the fall of 1990, it had been improved and was given at 2, 4 and 6 months, (I think with a booster 15 or 18 months). I know this because my son had HIB meningitis in Sept. 1988 when he was 7 months old - not old enough for the current vaccine. By the time my daughter was born in Sept 1990, the vaccine had been improved, nearly eliminating HIB meningitis.
Two of the three WERE vaccinated. What were the exact reasons the parents of the three that weren't vaccinated gave to excuse their children? Could it have been the children had low immune or were already sick? Did you not read that Merck pulled the vaccines because THEY feared the vaccines were CONTAMINATED? Exactly how many of you in the herd have actually looked at the FDA cautionary advisory notice of each of the vaccines you allow to enter your child's body? FROM THE CDC WEBSITE: What are the risks from Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine? A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing SERIOUS PROBLEMS, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of Hib vaccine causing serious harm or death is extremely small. How small? As small as say death from a spider bite? Would you allow a Black Widow spider to bite your child? Think people! What if!