Vaccine Side Effects

1. Do vaccinations give you side effects?

Yes, side effects are signals that the body is building immunity in response to the vaccines but they are usually mild, harmless and manageable.

2. What are the common side effects of vaccinations?

The common side effects of vaccinations include:

  • Redness, swelling or tenderness at the site of the injection.
  • A bit of irritability and feeling unwell.
  • Having a higher than normal temperature (fever)

3. What can you do about the side effects?

Any redness, swelling or tenderness will go away on its own. You need not worry.

If you or your child develop a fever or becomes irritable, you can treat them with pain relieving medication such as paracetamol. Paracetamol should be given to children only with the doctors approval and should never be given before immunisation, or if there is no fever. This is because some studies have shown that paracetamol reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine.

In the event that these symptoms worsen, make sure you report them to your doctor.

4. Are there more serious side effects?

Some individuals may experience some serious side effects from receiving an immunisation. These types of reactions are rare and will only occur after the vaccine has been given to millions of people across the world from different backgrounds.

Serious side effects typically include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • hoarseness
  • wheezing
  • hives
  • paleness
  • weakness
  • a fast heartbeat
  • dizziness
  • swelling of the throat

These serious side effects usually happen within half an hour after receiving immunisation.

Febrile seizures

In some rare cases, a baby’s temperature can rise rapidly and cause febrile seizures. Rest assured that it is rare for this sort of reaction to happen, but make sure to call the doctor straight away if it does.

5. What to do when more serious side effects happen?

If you or your loved one experience serious side effects (adverse reaction), it is important to immediately contact your doctor and get the reaction diagnosed and properly treated. Your doctor will file a report of Adverse Effects Following Immunisation (AEFI). You can also report the serious side effects.

AEFI reports can be made by:

  • By phone: 03-7883 5550
  • By facsimile: 03-7956 7151 using the form available at here
  • Via the online website
  • Or mail to: Pusat Pasca Pendaftaran Produk & Kawalan Kosmetik, Agensi Regulatori Farmasi Negara (NPRA), Lot 36, Jalan Universiti, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

AEFI reports are important because they enable the collection of data that is used to prevent future immunisation mishaps. AEFI reports also help in spotting patterns in vaccine reactions, and distinguishing the true vaccination adverse reaction from the unrelated.

6. What about allergic reactions to vaccines?

Sometimes you or your child may experience a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine (anaphylactic shock). Fortunately, such reactions are very rare, and occur at a rate of less than one in half a million doses. The risk of a severe allergic reaction can also be further reduced by good screening, done by your doctor, before vaccination.

7. I’ve had an allergic reaction to a vaccine before. Should I avoid other vaccines too?

Each vaccine is made differently and contains different ingredients. Therefore your allergic reaction to one vaccine is most likely exclusive to said vaccine. You should be fine to take other vaccines. However always highlight your allergies to your doctor, and discuss them before getting vaccinated.