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Children’s Vaccines: The Basics

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Who Shouldn't Be Vaccinated?

If your child has a cold, it’s usually OK for him to get his shots on time. But if he’s very ill, the doctor may want to wait a while. Make sure the doctor knows if your child is or has been sick before he gets a vaccine. 

People with certain cancers and immune system problems should not get vaccines made with live viruses. These include the nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist), chickenpox (varicella), and MMR.  Be sure your child’s doctor knows about all his health conditions.

If your child has had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past, he shouldn’t get that shot again. He may also need to skip a vaccine if he has a severe allergy to:

  • Eggs
  • Some types of antibiotics
  • Gelatin

The doctor can tell you whether or not a vaccine is right for your child.

What About Side Effects?

Vaccines, like any medicine, can cause side effects.

Most reactions are mild and don’t last very long. Your child may:

  • Be fussy
  • Feel sore or have red skin where he got the shot
  • Have a mild fever

Some kids also get swollen lymph nodes and joint pain. This type of reaction usually goes away without treatment. But make sure you call the doctor if it happens.

 Serious problems from vaccines are rare. Call your child’s doctor right away if you notice the following after a vaccination:

  • A lot of swelling where he got the shot
  • Rash
  • High fever

What if I Don't Vaccinate My Child?

Your child will be at risk for many serious or deadly diseases. If he gets sick, he can spread the germs to babies who have not yet been vaccinated or to others who cannot get a vaccine. 

Remember, your pediatrician wants to make sure your child is safe and healthy. If you have concerns, ask about them. Together you can decide what's best for your child.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on April 23, 2015
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