Vaccine reaction

Alternative names
Vaccine injury

Definition

A vaccine reaction is any injury or condition that occurs as a result of a vaccination to protect against disease. Serious reactions to vaccines are exceedingly rare, and vaccination carries far less risk than contracting the disease it prevents.

Symptoms
NORMAL REACTION TO DTaP IMMUNIZATION

     
  • Mild fever  
  • Irritability  
  • Localized tenderness and swelling at site of injection

ABNORMAL REACTION TO DTaP IMMUNIZATION

     
  • Unrelieved crying  
  • High-pitched cry  
  • Unusual shock-like syndrome       o Unresponsiveness       o Hypotonia (limp/decreased tone)  
  • Marked increase in sleeping time  
  • Persistent high fever (104 degrees Fahrenheit or greater)  
  • Seizure or convulsion

NORMAL REACTION TO MMR

     
  • Fever up to 103 degrees about 7-10 days after vaccine administration  
  • Mild measles rash (reaction to measles vaccine)  
  • Transient joint pains (reaction to rubella vaccine)

REACTIONS INCORRECTLY ATRIBUTED TO MMR

Several anti-vaccine groups have attributed the rise of autism in the United States to use of the MMR. This has been shown to be untrue by rigorous scientific study.

ABNORMAL REACTION TO POLIO VACCINE

Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock

NORMAL REACTION TO PREVNAR (PNEUMOCOCCAL VACCINE)

Fever

Signs and tests
Testing is usually unnecessary.

Treatment
Treatment depends on the type of symptom observed following immunization. Fever is normally treated with acetaminophen and cool sponge baths. Children with seizures must be seen by a health care provider promptly. Children who develop encephalitis will be hospitalized.

Expectations (prognosis)
Very few children who receive standard childhood vaccines develop significant problems following immunizations. For children who develop problems, standard fever care and a call to the health care provider for reassurance often suffice.

Complications

Abscess (pus) at site of immunization is a possible complication of vaccination. Other complications are the same as symptoms

Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you feel that your child is having an adverse reaction to immunizations.

Prevention

Considering the severity of the diseases that childhood immunizations prevent, the risk of the disease far exceeds the risk of injury from the vaccine. The incidence of vaccine-related injury is extremely low.

Vaccines are available that produce less fever, less swelling at the site of injection, and fewer vaccine-related conditions. For example, the diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine and the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) currently in use produce fewer side effects than vaccines used against these illnesses in the past.

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act were established to track and record reactions to vaccines and help clarify whether there is a consistent pattern of injury associated with a given vaccine.

Physicians are required to record complete information about the vaccines they are using and supply this information to VAERS, along with any reports of injury.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Mamikon Bozoyan, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.