Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Safety & Prevention

Why get vaccinated?

These vaccines can protect your baby from childhood diseases:

Diphtheria

  • Signs and symptoms include a thick coating in the back of the throat that can make it hard to breathe.
  • Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, paralysis and heart failure.
    • About 15,000 people died each year in the U.S. from diphtheria before there was a vaccine.

Tetanus (Lockjaw)

  • Signs and symptoms include painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body.
  • Tetanus can lead to stiffness of the jaw that can make it difficult to open the mouth or swallow.
    • Tetanus kills 1 person out of every 5 who get it.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

  • Signs and symptoms include violent coughing spells that can make it hard for an infant to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for several weeks.
  • Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death.

Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)

  • Signs and symptoms can include fever, headache, stiff neck, cough, and shortness of breath. There might not be any signs or symptoms in mild cases.
  • Hib can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); pneumonia; infections of the blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart; brain damage; and deafness.
    • Before there was a vaccine, Hib disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children under 5 years of age in the U.S.

Hepatitis B

  • Signs and symptoms include tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), and pain in muscles, joints and stomach. But usually there are no signs or symptoms at all.
  • Hepatitis B can lead to liver damage, and liver cancer. Some people develop chronic (long term) hepatitis B infection. These people might not look or feel sick, but they can infect others.
    • Hepatitis B can cause liver damage and cancer in 1 child out of 4 who are chronically infected.

Polio

  • Signs and symptoms can include flu-like illness, or there may be no signs or symptoms at all.
  • Polio can lead to permanent paralysis (can't move an arm or leg, or sometimes can't breathe) and death.
    • In the 1950s, polio paralyzed more than 15,000 people every year in the U.S.

Pneumococcal Disease

  • Signs and symptoms include fever, chills, cough, and chest pain.
    Pneumococcal disease can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings), blood infections, ear infections, pneumonia, deafness, and brain damage.

These diseases are much less common than they used to be. But the germs that cause them still exist, and even a disease that has almost disappeared will come back if we stop vaccinating. This has already happened in some parts of the world. When fewer babies get vaccinated, more babies get sick.

Babies usually catch these diseases from other children or adults, who might not even know they are infected. A mother with Hepatitis B can infect her baby at birth. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound; it is not spread from person to person.

Five childhood vaccines can protect your baby from these seven diseases:

 

Your healthcare provider might offer some of these vaccines as combination vaccines—several vaccines given in the same shot. Combination vaccines are as safe and effective as the individual vaccines, and can mean fewer shots for your baby.

Some children should not get certain vaccines:

Most children can safely get all of these vaccines. But there are some exceptions:

  • A child who is sick on the day vaccinations are scheduled might be asked to come back for them at a later date.
  • Any child who had a life-threatening allergic reaction after getting a vaccine should not get another dose of that vaccine. A child who has a severe (life-threatening) allergy to a substance should not get a vaccine that contains that substance. Some of these vaccines contain neomycin, streptomycin, yeast, lactose, sucrose, or latex.

Tell your doctor if your child has any severe allergies, or has ever had a severe reaction after any vaccination.

Talk to your doctor before your child gets…

  • …DTaP vaccine, if your child ever had any of these reactions after a previous dose of DTaP:
    • A brain or nervous system disease within 7 days,
    • Non-stop crying for 3 hours or more,
    • A seizure or collapse,
    • A fever of over 105°F.
  • …Polio vaccine, if your child has a severe allergy to the antibiotics neomycin, streptomycin or polymyxin B.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine, if your child has a severe allergy to yeast.
  • …PCV13 vaccine, if your child has a severe allergy to yeast, or ever had a severe reaction after a dose of DTaP (or other vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid), or after a dose of PCV7, an earlier pneumococcal vaccine.

Risks of a Vaccine Reaction:

Vaccines, like medicines, can cause side effects.

Most vaccine reactions are not serious: tenderness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; or a mild fever. These occur soon after the shot is given and go away within a day or two. They happen with up to about half of vaccinations, depending on the vaccine.

Polio, Hepatitis B and Hib Vaccines have been associated only with these kinds of mild reactions.

Other childhood vaccines have been associated with additional problems:

DTaP Vaccine

  • Mild Problems: Fussiness (up to 1 child in 3); tiredness or poor appetite (up to 1 child in 10); vomiting (up to 1 child in 50); swelling of the entire arm or leg for 1-7 days (up to 1 child in 30)—usually after the 4th or 5th dose.
  • Moderate Problems: Seizure (1 child in 14,000); non-stop crying for 3 hours or longer (up to 1 child in 1,000); fever over 105°F (1 child in 16,000).
  • Serious problems: Long term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, and permanent brain damage have been reported following DTaP vaccination. These reports are rare.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

  • Mild Problems: Drowsiness or temporary loss of appetite (about 1 child in 2 or 3); fussiness (about 8 children in 10).
  • Moderate Problems: Fever over 102.2°F (about 1 child in 20).

Problems that could happen after any vaccine:

  • Brief fainting spells can happen after any medical procedure, including a vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes can help prevent fainting, and injuries caused by a fall.
  • Severe shoulder pain and reduced range of motion in the arm where a shot was given can happen, very rarely, after a vaccination.
  • Severe allergic reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at less than 1 in a million doses. If one were to occur, it would usually be within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.

The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/.

What if there is a serious reaction?

What should I look for?

  • Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or behavior changes.
  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would usually start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination

What should I do?

  • If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can't wait, call 9-1-1 or get the person to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.
  • Afterward, the reaction should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your doctor should file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS web site at www.vaers.hhs.gov, or by calling 1-800-822-7967. VAERS does not give medical advice.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines.

Persons who believe they may have been injured by a vaccine can learn about the program and about filing a claim by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation. There is a time limit to file a claim for compensation.

How can I learn more?

  • Ask your doctor.
  • Call your local or state health department.
  • Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

 

Your Baby's First Vaccines; 10/22/2014; 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-26

 

Last Updated
10/28/2014
Source
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Vaccine Information Statement
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.