Contraindications for Immunizations

There are few genuine medical reasons for not vaccinating your child or yourself. Here are some examples of times when “shots” should or should not be given. 

What if I’m pregnant?

It is perfectly safe for your children to be vaccinated if you or someone in the household is pregnant.

Because there may be a slight risk to the fetus, women who are, or think they may be pregnant should not receive “live” vaccine. Measles/Mumps/ Rubella (MMR) and Varicella vaccines are examples of these and are not to be given to women of childbearing age who are pregnant or may be pregnant within 1 months.

What if my child has a cold?

Minor illnesses such as ear infections, cough, diarrhea, and sore throat (even if there is a low grade fever) is not a reason to delay the vaccinations. It is OK to be vaccinated while taking antibiotics.

If my child was born early are immunizations still safe?

All the more reason to help this little person stay healthy. Premature infants have the same schedule and doses as full term babies.

What about recent exposures to infectious disease?

No problem. The immunizations will not make it more likely to become ill with a disease to which your child has been exposed.

What if I have HIV?

Persons with HIV should consult their physician before being vaccinated. Most vaccines are recommended and encouraged for children and adults with HIV, but because their immune system may be affected certain live vaccines such as MMR may need to be avoided. Injectable Polio vaccine (IPV) does not contain live virus and is the only form of Polio Vaccine in current use in the United States.

What about people with other immune deficiency problems?

The same advice applies to those with reduced immune systems due to cancer therapy, corticosteroid therapy, etc. as applies to those with HIV (see above).

If I am breast-feeding is it OK for me (or my child) to be vaccinated?

Yes. While babies receive some protective antibodies by breast-feeding, they most definitely still need the “shots”. Women who are breast-feeding can also be vaccinated safely.

What if I have allergies?

Most folks have minor allergies such as “Hay Fever” or tend to sneeze or cough at one time of year due to a particular plant or mold in bloom. These kind of allergies or the history of such allergies in a family should not prevent vaccination.

Very few people have the kind of allergies that would prevent them from being vaccinated. Please inform the nurse if you (your child) ever “broke out with a rash”, or had other problems after receiving a vaccine. If your child does produce a rash or “hives” after receiving their shots, this should be treated as a MEDICAL EMERGENCY, as medication to calm this allergic response may be necessary. Call your health department nurse or healthcare provider immediately, and if there is any difficulty breathing, call 911. Such an allergic response to a vaccine will usually occur within one hour.

If you are unable to eat eggs or food products containing eggs because of an allergic reaction (Hives, difficulty breathing, etc.) then you should not be given MMR vaccine. Also, Neomycin (an antibiotic) allergy prevents you from receiving MMR and IPV and anyone allergic to Streptomycin (again, one of the antibiotics) should not be given IPV. Thimerosal (a preservative) allergy or egg allergy may prevent you from receiving the Influenza vaccine (Flu shot) and some other vaccines.

The research on allergies is ongoing. For example, the concern about egg allergies has recently been lessened. Your Nurse at the Health Department is an excellent resource. If you are concerned about a particular allergy you may have, speak with the immunization nurse or call us.

What about reactions?

Some discomfort following a vaccination is common. It is important to remember that the risk of serious health problems, even death, is highest for those who are not fully vaccinated.

If you or your child experienced a fever greater than 103°F, collapse or shock, or had inconsolable crying for greater than 3 hours within 48 hours of receiving a vaccine, there may have been a reaction to the vaccine and that “shot” should not be repeated. Most of these reactions are due to the Pertussis portion of the DTP shot. (If necessary subsequent vaccinations could be made using DT only. ) Other events that may prevent further vaccination with the “offending” shot would be encephalopathy, within the first seven days after a shot, and seizures occurring at any time thereafter. Persons with a family history of seizures or neurological problems should consult a Physician.

A low grade fever (103°F or less), some fussiness and soreness at the injection site are not reasons to prevent additional shots. A small percentage of children will have a 24 hour period of fine rash over their body and possibly a slight fever about 10 days to two weeks following their MMR vaccination.

What can I do to make my child more comfortable?

Children’s Tylenol or Tempra (acetaminophen), given every four hours for a day or so after the shots will help prevent fever, discomfort and other problems which may arise (particularly after the DTP shot). A warm bath is soothing for a babies sore leg. Running, playing and activity that uses the large muscles are good any time, but especially after vaccinations.