Skip to content

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size

Immunization Safety - Topic Overview

Some people question the safety of immunizations for children. Although minor discomfort sometimes follows vaccine injections, research does not support claims that immunizations put a child at any significant risk for harmful side effects. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine information statements list the side effects of each vaccine.

The risk of a serious complication from a disease is far greater than the risk from the vaccine. For example, 1 child in a group of 20 children may die from diphtheria disease. But only 1 child in a group of 14,000 children may have convulsions or shock after getting the DTaP vaccine. And that child would recover fully.1

Recommended Related to Children's Vaccines

Understanding Meningitis -- Diagnosis & Treatment

A procedure called a lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, will help determine whether someone has meningitis. During the procedure, an area of the back is injected with an anesthetic, and a needle is slipped between two bones in the spine to obtain a small sample of spinal fluid. The fluid is normally clear, so if it appears cloudy and contains white blood cells, you may have meningitis. Lab analysis will help determine which specific type of meningitis you have -- bacterial, viral, or fungal. Samples...

Read the Understanding Meningitis -- Diagnosis & Treatment article > >

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully evaluates all vaccines for safety. After a vaccine is approved, the FDA, the CDC, the vaccine maker, and several other agencies watch for any reports of rare or unexpected reactions. Federal law requires health professionals to report any reaction following an immunization to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). For more information about how vaccine safety is checked, see www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/index.html.

Immunizations are safe even if your child:

  • Currently has or is recovering from a minor illness, such as a cold or an ear infection.
  • Has a slight fever.
  • Has had recent exposure to someone with a contagious disease.
  • Was born early (prematurely).
  • Had a mild reaction (such as redness at the site of the injection or a slight fever) from a previous injection.
  • Is currently taking antibiotics.
  • Has had mild allergies or seizures or has a family history of such problems.
  • Has had allergic reactions to penicillin or other antibiotics (except for a history of severe reactions to neomycin or streptomycin).

Immunizations may be given to pregnant women, except for the following:

  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
  • Nasal spray flu vaccine
  • Smallpox
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow fever

Safety of multiple vaccines

Some people have voiced concern about immunizations when multiple vaccines for different diseases are given at the same time. These people fear that harmful side effects are more likely because the child's immune system is not able to combat all of the vaccine organisms at the same time.

    1|2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Baby getting vaccinated
    Is there a link? Get the facts.
    syringes and graph illustration
    Get a customized vaccine schedule.
     
    baby getting a vaccine
    Know the benefits and the risk
    nurse holding syringe in front of girl
    Should your child have it?
     

    What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
    Article
    24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
    Slideshow
     
    Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
    Article
    Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids
    Video
     

    Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
    Video
    gloved hand holding syringe
    Article
     
    infant receiving injection
    Tool
    pills
    Quiz
     

    WebMD Special Sections