Reactions to vaccines are real. They can range from mild to severe, and there is no clear cut path to navigating them. Information on handling vaccine side-effects may be difficult to find. Here are some steps that may help if someone in your family suffers a negative reaction.
Call your doctor
Some reactions, such as seizures or swelling of the airways, can be serious, and your child may need medical attention. If you don’t get an answer that you feel comfortable with, call again, make an appointment, or go to the emergency room.
- Think twice about Tylenol There has been an increasing trend in parental reports of children regressing into autism after using Tylenol (acetaminophen) to reduce fever after vaccination.
- Fevers: the basics It is a common misunderstanding that fevers are a sickness. In reality, elevated temperatures are a natural response to an infection or injury. For example, fever is a common post vaccination reaction because vaccines stimulate the same inflammatory- immune response that the actual disease stimulates. Fevers raise core body temperature to kill off harmful invaders.Fever is defined as a temperature of 101.4°F and over. It is common for fevers to get worse at night and better in the morning.
- Safe practice for managing fevers at home It is usually best to let the fever run its course, unless the child has a history of febrile seizures, or the temperature gets above 104 degrees. Encourage plenty of fluids, especially ones with electrolytes. Breast feed as normal for infants. Offer healthy foods, but don’t force. Get lots of rest and give comfort (get in your pajamas and snuggle in front of the TV!).
- It’s important to know when to call the doctor No one knows your child better than you. If you observe that your infant or child is not eating properly, seems too lethargic, very weak, or has a rapid pulse, it’s time to call your doctor. Get emergency help if your child has any difficulty breathing, is unresponsive or not moving. If your child has any chronic illnesses that affect breathing or metabolism – like asthma or diabetes – it may be a good idea to call your doctor to give them a heads up that your child has been running a fever.
Take pictures of any physical reactions like swelling, redness, or rashes. Take videos daily of speech patterns, motor skills, and personal interactions. Sometimes changes can occur slowly, over time, and taking videos can be a good way to monitor these changes.
Get your medical records
Medical records are legal documents which you have a right to access, and they can be useful if any claims are filed. Make sure they are complete. For example, all phone calls from you expressing concern to the office are in the chart, your child’s vaccine record has been documented and includes vaccine lot numbers (like a serial number), manufacturer, expiration dates, vaccine administration sites, and that all developmental screenings are present (usually performed at well child visits).
Report to VAERS
The Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System (VAERS) is a national vaccine safety surveillance program that encourages families or health care practitioners to report any event that occurs after a routine vaccination. VAERS was developed to monitor adverse events that occur after recommended vaccinations.
To assist the government in tracking these events, and to ultimately help develop safer vaccines and vaccine schedules, individuals and physicians are encouraged to report all vaccine adverse events.
Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System
The reporting system for vaccines, sponsored by the FDA and CDC.
Get back to basics
When something like a vaccine reaction happens, the last thing you may be thinking about is the environment, but recovery is all about getting back to basics –clean food, clean air, and clean water, as well as plenty of rest, decreased stress, and lots of nutrition. Making sure that the injured individual is in optimal health both before and after vaccination can make all the difference.
Learn your rights
If your or your child’s injury is significant, you have an option to petition a special, government-funded court. Although vaccine manufacturers cannot be sued directly, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Court exists to ensure that families touched by vaccine injury are able to pursue litigation.