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What to expect after child vaccinations

Side effects to watch out for

Babies and young children have a number of vaccinations before they reach school age. Sometimes these cause side effects.

Some injections are given into the arm, and others are given into the thigh or into the bottom. Others are given orally (by mouth).

The most common side effects are in the area where the injection was given, such as swelling, redness or a small hard lump.

These symptoms usually pass within a couple of days so you don’t need to do anything about them.

Your child may feel sick or have diarrhoea, but this is very rare.

Sometimes your child may develop a fever.

Treating a fever

In children under five years of age a fever is a temperature over 37.5°C. Fevers are quite common in young children, but are usually mild.

If your child’s face feels hot to the touch and they look red or flushed, he or she may have a fever. You can check their temperature with a thermometer.

Keep your child cool

  • Make sure they don’t have too many layers of clothes or blankets on.
  • Give them plenty of cool drinks.
  • If your child has a fever and appears uncomfortable or unwell, they can be given a dose of age-appropriate  infant paracetamol or ibuprofen liquid but read the instructions on the bottle very carefully to make sure the medicine is suitable for the child’s age.
  • It’s best not to give your child these medicines before vaccinations in anticipation of your child developing a fever.
  • Never give medicines containing aspirin to children under 16

After the MMR vaccination

MMR is made up of three different vaccines ( measles, mumps and rubella) and these can each cause reactions at different times after the injection.

After six to ten days, the measles vaccine may cause a fever, a measles-like rash, and loss of appetite.

Three to four weeks after the injection, the mumps vaccine may cause mumps-like symptoms in some children (fever and swollen glands).

The rubella vaccine may cause a brief rash and possibly a slightly raised temperature, most commonly around 12 to 14 days after the injection. A rash may also occur up to six weeks later but this is very rare.

Trust your instincts

You know your child best so trust your instincts. If you are worried seek medical advice.

If your child has a very high temperature of 39-40°C or above, or has a fit, seek medical advice immediately.

Checking on vaccine safety

Before vaccines are introduced, they have to be licensed by the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which assesses their safety and whether they work.

Once they have been introduced into the programme, their safety continues to be constantly monitored so that any new side effects are promptly noted and investigated.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 10, 2012

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