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Before vaccination, the public health nurse will ask whether the child is healthy and if there were any reactions after previous vaccines. Remember to inform the nurse if the child has an allergy or other health problems, or if the child has recently received medicine or a vaccine outside the programme. In addition, the nurse should also be told if the mother has taken a medicine that could affect the immune system during pregnancy or while breastfeeding because it may be necessary to postpone vaccination for some weeks.
Vaccinating a child who has a cold or is otherwise slightly under the weather is not harmful. However, it is normal to postpone the vaccination in the event of an acute illness and with a fever greater than 38˚C.
Children who have had unusual reactions after previous vaccinations and children with serious or prolonged illnesses should be assessed by a doctor before vaccination. In some cases, it may be necessary to deviate from the programme.
Most children have little or no reaction after vaccination. A fever greater than 39˚C and/or reduced general form may be a sign of a serious illness and is not necessarily a reaction to the vaccine. Therefore, always consult a doctor if you are concerned about the child.
Reactions to vaccines (side effects)
- Redness, swelling and pain at the injection site occur from time to time after all vaccines that are injected and can last for a few days.
- Mild fever, restlessness, crying, sleepiness, feeling unwell or a lack of appetite occur in up to one in ten children after vaccination. A fever higher than 39 ˚C is uncommon.
- In small children, a rapidly rising fever can lead to fever cramps. These are not dangerous but you should consult a doctor to rule out other acute illness.
- Pallor, feeling unwell or fainting after vaccination is more common in older children than in infants and is almost always due to the child reacting to the injection/pain or to the situation.
- An allergic reaction to vaccines may occur in rare cases. The most dangerous allergic reactions appear rapidly after vaccination. Therefore, the child should wait at the public health clinic for at least twenty minutes after vaccination.