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How to know if a Child is Allergic to a Vaccination

Updated on September 13, 2012

Allergic reactions to vaccines are extremely rare; literally one in a million children will have a severe reaction to their vaccinations. Although this is a very low risk, it is important to remain vigilant and practice a series of precautions to ensure your child’s safety. Mild to moderate reactions are more common, and can create uncomfortable and distressing symptoms for you and your child. Educate yourself and follow these simple guidelines to reduce the risks of an allergic reaction from vaccinations.

What is an Allergic Reaction?

A foreign substance enters the body and the immune system responds with an exaggerated reaction that produces mild to extremely undesirable symptoms. Hypersensitivity, such as pollen, dust, or a substance as benign as milk, can provoke an immune response that may trigger an asthma attack, throat irritation or swollen lips and tongue. Allergic reactions to medications or vaccinations can be mild to severe. The life threatening reaction to allergens is called anaphylaxis. Different kinds of allergic reactions may occur and the majority of them are not life threatening.

Egg Allergies and Influenza Vaccines

Influenza vaccines, either the inactivated or the intranasal live are cultured from a chicken embryo medium and a small amount of egg protein. People with egg allergies have a risk of a small risk for an allergic reaction from these vaccines, and should consult their physician before receiving a flu shot. If a child has an egg allergy, but has a high risk of developing serious complications from the flu, the adverse effects of the vaccine may be a calculated risk. If the physician elects to give an allergic child a vaccination, they may insist that the child remain in the office for over an hour for observation.

How can I Protect my Child from an Allergic Reaction to a Vaccine?

No one can be expected to predict what their baby may be allergic to; however, you can be vigilant and document whenever your child has a reaction to anything that may be related to vaccine components:

  • Food or Drinks
  • Soap, Shampoo or Laundry Detergent
  • Eggs, Gelatin or Yeast Products
  • Latex Products
  • Any Reactions to Vaccines or Medications in the Past
  • Medications

Also, make sure your doctor is aware of any immune system problem your child may have. Share this information with your pediatrician before any immunization or medication is given. Some vaccinations may contain a similar substance that contains your child’s allergen.

Keep an Up to Date Allergy Record

Although your doctor’s office will keep vaccination and immunization records, it is important for you to carry a card with a complete record of all vaccinations your child has received. If you’d prefer, there are online electronic registries you can use to record your child’s immunizations. If you switch pediatricians, or have to visit the emergency room, it is important to have the most recent record of vaccinations on hand. An interruption or incomplete record of the vaccination schedule may require a second shot and will increase the risk for allergic reactions.

Mild, Moderate and Severe Allergic Reactions in Children


Local Allergic Reactions to Vaccinations are Common

The purpose of the vaccination is to stimulate the immune system and force it into creating the protection of antibodies. After the shot is given, it is common for your child to experience a mild fever. Babies often experience soreness and mild swelling at the injection site. Always report any symptoms you feel are excessive to your pediatrician.

Mild to Moderate Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

Notify the pediatrician if allergic symptoms include a skin rash, mild swelling of face and lips, coughing or any behavior that is not usual for your child. Report the time the vaccination was given. You physician may want to see your baby immediately or recommend you bring the child to the emergency room for an examination.

A Quick Look Up Guide to Emergency Allergic Reactions

If your child is experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, they may be having a severe reaction to a vaccination. Within minutes to usually about an hour after a vaccination:

1. Difficulty breathing or an asthma attack

2. Seizures or unresponsiveness

3. A rash that appears quicky and covers the chest or the stomach area

4. A baby that cries for more than 3 hours without cessation

5. Swelling of mouth or throat with or without cough

Call 911 or the appropriate number for your emergency medical service in your location immediately. Position your child on their back with their head raised if possible. If the child is experiencing a convulsion or seizure, protect their body from coming incontact with furniture or other objects. Stay with your child until help arrives.

Anaphylaxis: Severe Allergic Reaction

A severe allergic reaction to a vaccine is very rare, but be ready to respond to it: Allergic reactions may occur a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination. Signs of a severe allergic reaction may include:

  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling of the Throat
  • A Sudden Rash with Hives, Whelps or Raised Bumps
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Hoarseness and Wheezing
  • Seizures
  • Unresponsiveness

If your baby shows these signs, call 911 immediately, and initiate the Emergency Medical System.

Tell the emergency room physician when the vaccine was given, what the vaccine was, and what time the vaccine was administered.


About the Author

eHealer is an expert author and professional nurse with a masters degree in nursing research. With over 25 years experience as a registered nurse in patient care and nursing education, eHealer has written valuble online information for the past 12 years on health and wellness, scientific research and chronic disease. eHealer continues a philosophy of providing responsible, factual, and evidenced-based information that provide health consumers with the best health information to make useful and important healthcare decisions.


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    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Your little man likes spicy food already, he is a true little man! Thanks for sharing Amuno, you made my day!

    • amuno profile image

      Alfred Amuno 

      8 years ago from Kampala

      Funny enough the mother could not stand it. But it was only one mouthful for the little fellow. We could not permit another mouthful of of course.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      How funny Amuno, he hates syrup? But he likes pepper? Sounds like a real little man. Taste buds are few when your a child but "sweet" is usually the first thing you can taste because sweet things are often "safe" to eat, not like "bitter" tasting things that may be poisonous. That is really different! Thanks for sharing Amuno.

    • amuno profile image

      Alfred Amuno 

      8 years ago from Kampala

      Good stuff Deborah. Guess you should be the nearest we can reach in case of such emergencies.

      My 11 month old does not seem to have serious issues with allergies unless hatred of syrup is one of them. I think he feigns vomiting even before you pop open the bottle. He one time ate stuff with pepper and it did not seem strange: syrup is sweet for crying out loud!

      Voted up.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you Aykianink, I appreciate your comments and thanks for reading my hub!

    • aykianink profile image


      8 years ago

      Great article. Loved this suggestion: " is important for you to carry a card with a complete record of all vaccinations your child has received."

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Recappers, I appreciate your comments and did my best. I am so glad you found it useful.

    • recappers delight profile image

      recappers delight 

      8 years ago

      This is an excellent hub with a lot of great information on an important topic that will be relevant to a lot of people.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      hey ESPeck1919, thanks for reading my hub. I really appreciate your comments and share your familial allergy legacy. Thanks for stopping by, and good health to you.

    • ESPeck1919 profile image

      Emilie S Peck 

      8 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Great hub, and extremely important information.

      Being from a family whose genetic code seems to specialize in giving us allergies, I've either experienced most of these symptoms or witnessed them myself. It's scary, but when you know how to handle them (and hopefully avoid them) from the outset, they're a little easier to deal with.


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