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With so much conflicting information written on the topic of immunizations, it can be hard to get a handle on it all. When the question of reactions to vaccines arises, often things fly directly to one of two extreme positions. Either reactions are not a concern or, every child is at risk with every needle.
Many parents are concerned, and don't know what to believe. Immunization reactions don't take every child to death's door but adverse reactions do happen. What are they? How serious can they get? What options are open to you as a parent?
The Mayo Clinic cautioned that it's possible to have reactions to any vaccine. Most are mild, like fever, or soreness, redness and swelling in the injection area. The recipient may have no appetite. Dizziness, fatigue and headaches may occur.
Allergic reactions or neurological problems such as seizures are more serious. Children with a history of allergic reactions to medications or foods may be at risk for these reactions.
Children with known allergies should not have vaccines containing those allergens. If your child or a sibling has had a serious reaction, that vaccine should be avoided. If your child has had allergic reactions or reacted adversely to a vaccination, let your doctor know before any vaccine is administered.
In December 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that in 50 million doses, they saw 204 life-threatening reactions, major disabilities, hospitalization, abnormal birth conditions or death. Thirteen people died, 10 contracted Guillain-Barré syndrome, and 19 developed anaphylaxis.
Webmd.com described serious reactions as being:
• "anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction in persons who are allergic to any vaccine components (ingredients)
• "development of temporary arthritis following rubella vaccine
• "development of a disease similar to the disease that the vaccine is intended to prevent if a 'live-attenuated vaccine' (see below) is given to a person with a weakened immune system"
Be sure to read the package inserts for any vaccine. Your health care provider is required to make information sheets available to you.