Family Health Guide

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Vaccines: At the Doctor

It can be hard to sort through fact and fiction when it comes to vaccines, so don’t be afraid to address any concerns with your pediatrician. Here are a few questions you might want to ask:

Should my child get vaccinated when she’s sick?
If your child has a mild illness, it’s usually fine for her to be immunized. With vaccines that contain a live virus, such as the nasal spray version of the flu or H1N1 vaccine (safe for certain children over age two), it’s generally recommended that your child be well. Tell your doctor about any symptoms your child may be having before she receives a shot.

What combination shots do you recommend?
Since more vaccines are now recommended, ask your doctor about combo shots, which can mean fewer shots (and fewer tears).

Is there a thimerosol-free version of the vaccine available?
If you have any lingering concerns over the preservative thimerosol, you can ask your doctor if there’s a version of the vaccine without it.

Is my child at risk for an allergic reaction?
Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of allergies. Your child will still likely be able to get her vaccines, but your doctor may want you to wait in the office after her shot to be sure that there isn’t a reaction. Certain vaccines are not recommended if your child has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any of the vaccine components or anything used to produce the vaccine. For example, the influenza virus is grown in eggs; children with a severe egg allergy should not receive the vaccine. The MMR shot also contains trace amount of egg, while the HepB vaccine may cause a reaction in children who have an allergy to Baker’s Yeast.  If your child does have a severe reaction, head to the emergency room and call your doctor on the way. Later, ask your doctor about filing a report with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at 1/800-822-7967 or at