Objective: Effective Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccines were first licensed for use in US children at least 18 months old in December 1987 and for infants at least 2 months old in October 1990. We evaluated trends in Hib disease associated with licensure of Hib conjugate vaccines.
Design: Data from two sources, an intensive laboratory-based active surveillance system and the National Bacterial Meningitis Reporting System (NBMRS), were used separately to evaluate disease incidence. Data from vaccine manufacturers on Hib vaccine doses distributed in the United States were compared with trends in Hib disease incidence.
Results: The age-specific incidence of Hib disease among children less than 5 years old decreased by 71% from 37 per 100,000 persons in 1989 to 11 per 100,000 persons in 1991 (active surveillance data). Haemophilus influenzae meningitis incidence decreased by 82% between 1985 and 1991 (NBMRS data). Increases in doses of Hib vaccine distributed in the United States coincided with steep declines in Hib disease. Both surveillance systems showed decreased rates of Hib disease in infants less than 1 year old before vaccine was licensed for use in this age group. Haemophilus influenzae type b disease incidence in persons at least 12 years old and pneumococcal meningitis incidence in children less than 5 years old did not change substantially during the same period; therefore, decreased Hib disease in children less than 5 years old is not likely to be explained solely by changes in surveillance sensitivity or decreases in bacterial disease due to changes in medical practice.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that conjugate vaccines have already had a marked impact on the incidence of Hib disease in the United States, preventing an estimated 10,000 to 16,000 cases of Hib disease in 1991. The decline of disease in infants less than 1 year old before licensure for this age group warrants further investigation.