Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Vaccine Reactions - Specific Details


  • A reaction to a recent immunization (vaccine)
  • Most reactions are at the shot site (such as pain, swelling, redness)
  • General reactions (such as a fever or being fussy) also can be common

Call or Return If

  • Redness starts after 2 days (48 hours)
  • Redness becomes larger than 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Pain or redness gets worse after 3 days
  • Pain or redness lasts more than 7 days
  • Fever starts after 2 days
  • Fever lasts more than 3 days
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Types of Vaccines Covered
Go directly to the vaccine number that relates to your question for details:

1. Chickenpox (varicella) virus
2. DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis)
3. Hemophilus influenzae type b
4. Hepatitis A virus
5. Hepatitis B virus
6. Human Papilloma virus
7. Influenza virus
8. MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
9. Meningococcal
10. Polio virus
11. Pneumococcal
12. Rotavirus

After Care Advice

Chickenpox Virus Vaccine:
  • Pain or swelling at the shot site for 1 to 2 days. (20% of children)
  • Mild fever lasting 1 to 3 days begins 17 to 28 days after the shot (15%). Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever over 102° F (39°C).
  • Never give aspirin for fever, pain or within 6 weeks of getting the shot. Reason: Risk of Reye syndrome, a rare but serious brain disease.
  • Chickenpox-like rash (usually 2 red bumps) at the shot site (3%)
  • Chickenpox-like rash (usually 5 red bumps) scattered over the body (4%)
  • This mild rash begins 5 to 26 days after the shot. Most often, it lasts a few days.
  • Children with these rashes can go to child care or school. (Reason: For practical purposes, vaccine rashes are not spread to others)
  • EXCEPTION: Do not go to school if red bumps drain fluid and are all over. Reason: Can be actual chickenpox.
  • Caution: If vaccine rash contains fluid, cover it with clothing or a Band-Aid.
Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP) Vaccine:
  • These harmless reactions to DTaP can occur:
  • Pain, swelling and redness at the shot site is the main side effect. This happens in 25% of children. It lasts for 3 to 7 days.
  • Fever (in 25% of children) and lasts for 24 to 48 hours
  • Children can be sleepy (30%) and / or fussy (30%). They can also have a decreased appetite (10%). These symptoms go away in about 24 to 48 hours after the shot.
  • Large swelling over 4 inches (10 cm) arm can follow the later doses of DTaP. The area of redness is smaller. This usually occurs with the 4th or 5th dose. It occurs in 5% of children. Most children can still move the leg or arm normally. The area of redness is smaller.
  • The large thigh or upper arm swelling goes away without treatment. This is usually by day 3 (60%) to day 7 (90%).
  • This is not an allergy. Future DTaP vaccines are safe to give.
Hemophilus Influenza Type B Vaccine (Hib):
  • No serious reactions reported.
  • Sore shot site or mild fever only occurs in 2% of children.
Hepatitis A Virus Vaccine:
  • No serious reactions reported.
  • Sore shot site occurs in 20% of children.
  • Loss of appetite occurs in 10% of children.
  • Headache occurs in 5% of children.
  • Most often, no fever is present.
  • If these symptoms occur, they most often last 1-2 days.
Hepatitis B Virus Vaccine (HBV):
  • No serious reactions reported.
  • Sore shot site occurs in 30% of children and mild fever in 3% of children.
  • Fever from the vaccine is rare. Any baby under 2 months with a fever after this shot should be examined.
Influenza Virus Vaccine:
  • Pain or swelling at the shot site occurs within 6 to 8 hours. The shot site may be tender to touch. This happens in 10% of children.
  • Mild fever under 103° F (39.5° C) occurs in 20% of children. Fevers mainly occur in young children.
  • Nasal Influenza Vaccine: Congested or runny nose, mild fever.
Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine:
  • Measles Virus Vaccine can cause a fever (10% of children) and rash (5% of children). This occurs about 6 to 12 days after the shot.
  • Mild fever under 103° F (39.5°C) in 10% and lasts 2 or 3 days.
  • The mild pink rash is mainly on the trunk and lasts 2 or 3 days.
  • No treatment is needed. The measles vaccine rash cannot be spread to others. Your child can go to child care or to school with the rash.
  • Mumps or Rubella Virus Vaccine: There are no serious reactions. Sometimes, a sore shot site can occur.
  • Call Your Doctor If: Rash changes to blood-colored spots or lasts more than 3 days.
Meningococcal Vaccine:
  • No serious reactions.
  • Sore shot site for 1 to 2 days occurs in 50%. Limited use of the arm occurs in 15% of children.
  • Mild fever occurs in 5%, headache in 40% and joint pain in 20%
  • The vaccine never causes meningitis.
Papillomavirus Virus Vaccine:
  • No serious reactions.
  • Sore shot site for few days in 90%.
  • Redness and swelling at the shot site (in 50%).
  • Fever over 100.4° F (38.0° C) in 10% and fever over 102° F (39° C) in 2%.
  • Headache in 30%.
Pneumococcal Vaccine:
  • No serious reactions.
  • Pain, swelling OR redness at the shot site in 20%.
  • Mild fever under 102° F (39° C) in 15% for 1-2 days.
Polio Virus Vaccine:
  • Polio vaccine given by shot sometimes causes some muscle soreness.
  • Polio vaccine given by mouth is no longer used in the U.S.
Rotavirus Vaccine:
  • Usually, no serious reactions to this vaccine given by mouth.
  • Mild diarrhea or vomiting for 1 to 2 days in 3%.
  • No fever.
  • Rare serious reaction: intussusception risk 1 in 100,000 (CDC). Presents with vomiting, bloody diarrhea or severe crying.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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