Vaccinations – Common Side Effects

For most vaccines, serious side effects are extremely rare but, as with any medicine, sometimes side effects do occur. The risks of vaccines are much lower than the risks of the diseases they prevent. Different vaccines have different side effects, most of which are mild. They include:

  • temporary pain
  • redness, swelling, or soreness where the injection was given
  • short-lived flu-like symptoms

These side effects happen in about one out of four children who receive vaccinations. They appear fairly soon after the injection is given and should go away after one or two days. If these symptoms persist for longer than this, talk to one of our doctors or nurses.

Redness, swelling, or soreness where the injection was given

Your child may have a reaction shortly after receiving the vaccine. This may include redness, swelling, soreness, or bruising in the area where the injection was given. A cool, wet cloth can be used to ease your child’s discomfort.

Temporary pain, causing a fear of vaccines

Fear or ‘needle phobia’ is a common side effect of vaccines. About 1 in 10 people avoid immunisation and other needle procedures because they experienced pain from a previous injection. If your child is feeling anxious, stay calm, distract and comfort them. A favourite toy or blanket can help reassure them.

When to see a doctor for vaccine side effects

Serious side effects from immunisation are very rare, but they can happen. They may include:

  • serious allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, including itching, rash, swelling around the mouth and face, trouble breathing, and low blood pressure
  • seizures
  • high fever
  • joint pain or stiffness
  • pneumonia

If your child is showing any of these serious side effects, or if you are worried, contact one of our doctors or go to the nearest Emergency Department.