Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Immunization Reaction Overview

What is an immunization reaction?
A person with an immunization reaction has side effects from a vaccine or immunization. Mild skin irritation and rashes are the most common immunization reactions: severe reactions are rare. People with mild immunization reactions recover without treatment.

What are the symptoms of an immunization reaction?
Symptoms of a mild immunization reaction include fever, muscle aches, rash, hives, and pain, swelling or redness at the site of the vaccination. Symptoms of a more severe immunization reaction include wheezing, breathing difficulty, a severe rash, or severe hives.

How does the doctor treat an immunization reaction?
The treatment for immunization reactions depends on the type of reaction. Treatment for immunization reactions may include warm compresses to the site, oral antihistamines, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Treatment for severe immunization reactions includes intravenous fluids, corticosteroids, and epinephrine injections.

Continue to Immunization Reaction Incidence

Last Updated: Feb 9, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Immunization Reaction References
  1. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Update: vaccine side effects, adverse reactions, contraindications, and precautions. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) MMWR Recomm Rep. 1996 Sep 6;45(RR-12):1-35. [8801442]
  2. Cunha SC, Dourado I. MMR mass vaccination campaigns, vaccine-related adverse events, and the limits of the decision making process, in Brazil. Health Policy. 2004 Mar;67(3):323-8. [15036819]
  3. Honkanen PO, Keistinen T, Kivela SL. Reactions following administration of influenza vaccine alone or with pneumococcal vaccine to the elderly. Arch Intern Med. 1996 Jan 22;156(2):205-8. [8546555]
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