What to do if your think your child has had a serious reaction to a vaccine

One of the most serious problems that can occur with getting any vaccine is a severe allergic reaction. If this were to happen, it would most likely happen within a few minutes to a couple of hours after getting a vaccine. Even though this is rare, it’s important to seek medical help if this occurs.

  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction:
    • Hives
    • Swelling of the face and/or throat
    • Difficulty breathing, wheezing and/or hoarseness
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Dizziness
    • Weakness
    • Paleness

Other indicators that your child may have had a serious reaction to a vaccine:

  • Very high fever
  • Behavioral changes

*Note: brief fainting spells are not uncommon following a vaccination. This does not usually indicate a serious reaction to the vaccine. However, fainting spells can lead to injury. Inform the doctor if your child feels dizzy or light-headed, or has vision changes or ringing in the ears. Laying down immediately following vaccination can prevent this from happening again.

What to do if you or your child has a serious reaction to a vaccine:

  • If the reaction is severe call 9-1-1 or get the person to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.
  • Report the reaction to the “Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System” (VAERS). Your doctor might file this report, or you can do 
it yourself through the VAERS website or by calling 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions; it does not give medical advice.
  • Of course, do not give your child the follow-up boosters for the vaccine he has had a reaction to. Speak with your child’s doctor about your vaccination options.

Other important links:

  • The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)–a federal program created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. To learn about the program and about filing a claim, you may call 1-800-338-2382 or visit the VICP website.
  • Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by calling 1-800-232-4636 or visit
ing the CDC’s vaccine website.
  • Call or click your local or state health department.

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