Vaccination Side Effects: What You Should Know

Vaccines are standard practice today to protect you from contracting diseases like the measles, mumps, chickenpox and polio. But since many of these illnesses don't pose much of a widespread threat anymore, you may wonder if getting immunized is really necessary. You may also worry that the risk of experiencing vaccination side effects could be higher than your likelihood of getting sick. But if you're considering skipping any recommended vaccines, you may want to think again.

Concern about Vaccination Side Effects

Vaccination side effects and reactions have received widespread attention in recent years, making some people wonder whether they want to take the risk for themselves and their families. Yet many experts stress that the risks of side effects are small compared with the risks of NOT getting immunized and instead allowing deadly diseases to begin to spread again.

The Need that Exists

The truth is that immunizations have made a big difference in stamping out many serious illnesses but while many of them have been successfully contained here, the germs that cause them still exist in other parts of the world. This means that if people here were to stop getting vaccinated, the germs could become active in our country again and could cause many unnecessary deaths.

The Facts about Vaccination Side Effects

If you're concerned that when you get vaccinated you'll be exposed to the illness in question through the injection, it may help you to know that most vaccinations contain very weak disease components or even those that have already been killed, so getting a vaccination shouldn't be strong enough to cause you to become seriously ill. On the other hand, it will be enough to prompt your immune system to make antibodies against the disease. This means that should you become exposed to the germ again, you'll be able to resist getting sick.

Vaccination Side Effects and Risks

The risks of experiencing any serious vaccine side effects are relatively rare, although mild reactions do occur. These should resolve very quickly and shouldn't put you in any danger or leave any lasting effects.

Please review some examples of mild reactions, which can include:

  • Soreness at the sight of the injection.
  • Redness and swelling.
  • Fever
  • Weakness

More Serious Signs

While serious vaccination side effects are rare, some people do experience a severe allergic reaction to something contained in the vaccine.

The signs that could indicate you're having a more serious problem include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Hives
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Rapid heart beat

If you believe you could be having a severe vaccine reaction, you should call your doctor right away or seek medical attention. You'll need to provide details about the vaccine type you had and when, and your doctor will need to report this issue to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (also known as VAERS), which is run by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Other Options

People with severe allergies to foods and medicines at times may be at higher risk for having complications, so be sure to discuss this with your doctor in advance.

Your doctor may recommend trying a different form of a vaccine that bothered you in the past or may have you undergo testing to find out if you're at risk for future problems. It can also be a very good idea to have your vaccines done in your allergist's office just in case you do have any complications.

Just remember that in most cases, getting vaccinated will be safer than skipping your immunizations and taking any chance of getting sick.


Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)