Motherhood is full of incredible moments that are truly magical. However, there are a few moments that aren’t so nice. One such moment is the time when you have to take your baby for its vaccinations.

The actual injections can be quite painful, and to make matters worse, you can’t explain to your baby why you are doing this to them. In some cases, your baby may actually also develop a reaction to the vaccine. For most, the reactions are just minor irritations, but in a few cases, they can be quite severe. It can also take a while for the reaction to appear – up to 48 hours after the injection.

The good news is, these reactions are quite normal and should go away within two to three days all on their own.

How to prevent reactions

An antipyretic can be taken by your baby before the vaccination is injected. This drug will combat a fever, and can minimize some of the typical reactions to a vaccine. Be sure to speak to your doctor about this if you are concerned. The antipyretic can also be taken after the injection if symptoms show up.

The main symptoms and reactions you can expect

Some of the most common symptoms of a reaction to a vaccine are:

  • Fever
  • Drowsiness or sleeping more than usual
  • Lack of appetite
  • Pain, itchiness and redness at the injection site

Other symptoms like muscle pain and a headache can also occur, along with a lot of irritability.

IMPORTANT: If the symptoms do not go away within 3 days you must consult your pediatrician.

How to relieve symptoms

Symptoms that show up at the actual site of the injection can be relieved by applying ice to the area. This will reduce swelling, irritation, redness and pain. Wrap the ice in a towel and apply it three times a day until the discomfort goes away.

Fever and pain in your baby’s body can be reduced by administering an antipyretic or an analgesic, like paracetamol. These are known to reduce fevers and help with your baby’s comfort levels.

You can also help your baby by feeding it smaller meals more often. You should also try to eat a lot more healthily to give your baby as many nutrients as possible.

Some children are actually allergic to the vaccination – or a component of the vaccine. They can develop symptoms such as itchiness at the site of the injection or on their skin in general, as well as difficulty breathing. In severe cases, they can go into anaphylactic shock. This type of reaction will happen almost immediately or within the first 30 minutes after receiving the injection. The good news is, you’ll still be with your doctor if this reaction occurs.

IMPORTANT: It’s essential to vaccinate your baby at the recommended time. Through vaccinations, you help to prevent epidemics and control the spread of serious illnesses. If you don’t give your child vaccinations, you not only put your child at risk, but also those children who aren’t able to have vaccinations due to real and recognized medical conditions.

Vaccines and their reactions

All vaccines are developed with care and thoroughly tested before being included in the child vaccination portfolio. However, as with any medicine, adverse reactions can occur in certain babies. Additionally, the vaccines are all made up of different components, meaning your child may not react the same way to each injection it receives.

There are several vaccinations included in the two-month list and the four-month booster shots that all children should receive. The injections for influenza, yellow fever and the MMR vaccine (measles, rubella and mumps) should be cleared by a doctor if your child is allergic to eggs. Most of the injections are fine for this allergy, but it is better to check first.

If your child is allergic to gelatin, there are a few injections that should be cleared first by your doctor. These are the vaccines for influenza, rabies, chickenpox, MMR (measles, rubella and mumps) and DPT (diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough). These can all cause adverse reactions of differing levels of severity.

The BCG vaccine that is used to immunize against tuberculosis has a characteristic reaction in almost all recipients. A large, red lump will likely form at the site of the injection. It will then develop into a small sore that should scab over. This is a common reaction and nothing to worry about. You should, however, ensure that the wound stays clean as it heals.

With most vaccines, there should be some kind of irritation or mark at the site of the injection. This is completely normal because your baby’s skin is sensitive and will react to both the needle and the actual vaccine. If there is no reaction at all, it’s important to talk to your doctor to ensure that the vaccination has in fact worked.

By keeping your child vaccinated, you are going a long way towards ensuring that your child has a healthy immune system and can fight off serious infectious diseases. You are also contributing to society by helping with herd immunity and ensuring that these dangerous illnesses are eradicated and stay that way.

If you have any questions or concerns about vaccinating your child, talk to your doctor first. There are some people who are unable to have vaccinations due to real and recognized medical conditions, and they will benefit from everyone who can get vaccinated actually getting the injections.

Readers’ questions:

How long does the two-month vaccination last?

There are usually two sets of vaccinations given after birth – the two-month injections and then the four-month boosters. For some illnesses, this should be sufficient for the rest of your child’s life. However, there are some that will need to be boosted throughout their life, depending on where they are living. It’s important to talk to your doctor about this if you live in an area where you are at risk.