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Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects that are usually mild and brief.  Most children are fine after getting a shot.  Side effects are usually minimal and last less than 24 hours.  In rare cases, a child may have a serious allergic reaction.  The risks of a serious reaction happening are lower than the risks of the diseases the shots prevent.  After your child receives a vaccination (shot), your child will be asked to wait for 15 minutes to make sure that there are no side effects.  Below are common side effects and what you can do.

Symptoms What to do?

A sore, red, itchy, or swollen spot where the shot was given

  • Cuddle and comfort your child.
  • Encourage your child to move the arm or leg that they received the vaccine in.
  • Put a cold cloth on the area.
  • Consider using medications for pain, such as acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g. Advil).  Discuss with your health care provider how much to give your child, especially for children under 6 months of age.  You do not need to wake a sleeping child to give them medication for pain.

Flu-like symptoms including:

  • Mild fever
  • Tiredness
  • Swelling of the lymph glands
  • Headaches
  • Aches in muscles and joints
  • Loss of appetite
  • Upset stomach or vomiting
  • This is your child’s body learning to recognize and fight off the diseases that the vaccines are preventing.
  • Consider using medications for fever, such as acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g. Advil).  Discuss with your health care provider how much to give your child, especially for children under 6 months of age.
  • Remove excess clothing and bedding for fever.
  • Allow your child to rest.
  • Offer your child plenty of fluids.

Severe reactions do not happen often.  Seek medical attention if your child:

  • Gets a rash.  This may happen after the MMR, MMRV, or varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.
  • Feels itchy, has redness, or raised itchy red bumps all over their body
  • Has convulsions.
  • Has a temperature 39oC (102.2oF) or greater or a fever that lasts more than 2 days.
  • Is feeling shortness of breath, wheezing, or has tightness in their throat.
  • Has facial swelling.
  • Has joint pain or stiffness.

Remember to have your health care provider update your child’s immunization record.  Parents should call the Health Unit to report their shots as health care providers do not report what shots your child receives.

For more information contact the Health Unit or speak to your health care provider.

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