Background: WHO estimates that Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) caused over 8 million cases of serious disease and 376,000 deaths globally in the year 2000. The introduction of Hib vaccines has essentially eliminated Hib disease in countries where they are routinely used. Now, almost all Hib disease cases and deaths occur in countries where Hib vaccines is not incorporated in the routine immunization program.
Process: The Hib and Pneumococcal subcommittee of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) in India met in April 2008. This paper focuses on the discussions regarding Hib vaccine introduction; the pneumococcal vaccine discussion is being published separately. The subcommittee reviewed the available published and unpublished literature as well as consulted prominent Hib experts to make an informed decision regarding the introduction of Hib vaccine into the routine Universal Immunization Program (UIP) in India.
Objectives: The meeting was conducted with the objectives of reviewing the existing Indian, regional and global data on Hib disease (meningitis and pneumonia), the data on safety and immunogenecity of Hib vaccines manufactured in India, as well as the programmatic and operational requirements for the introduction of Hib vaccine in India, with the goal of making a recommendation on the introduction of Hib vaccine into the UIP.
Recommendations: The committee noted that Hib diseases burden is suffiently high in India to warrant prevention by vaccination. Hib vaccines have been demonstrated to be safe, both globally and in India, and extremely efficacious in all settings where they have been used. Hib vaccine fits into the UIP immunization schedule. Several Indian manufacturers are currently producing Hib vaccines, and a detailed analysis showed that supplier capacity would be sufficient to meet the present and future demand for India if given sufficient lead time to increase production. Recognizing that it is the poorest children that are most at risk, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics has already recommended this vaccine for routine use in India. This subcommittee strongly recommended that Hib vaccine should immediately be introduced in India's UIP.