Useful information following vaccination

The information below, along with a checklist of vaccine-specific side effects, has been provided for you to discuss with your patients before they or their children are vaccinated. They can also read Useful information following vaccination (PDF 170KB).

Vaccinations, like any medication may cause side effects. This page explains common reactions that may be experienced after receiving a vaccine and the recommended action for you to take if you are concerned.

You should remain at the centre for 15 minutes following vaccination to ensure you and/or your child is within easy access of medical care in the unlikely event of a severe or rare reaction which usually occurs within the first 15 minutes following vaccination.

Common reactions

Most vaccine reactions as explained by your doctor or nurse are minor events and are usually mild and short lasting and in most instances do not need special treatment.

Common reactions

What you can do

Local reaction (redness and/or swelling around injection site)

  • Place a cold damp cloth (cold compress) over the affected area to give relief.
  • Paracetamol (not aspirin) may be used to ease the discomfort.

Mild temperature or fever

  • Monitor the temperature (a fever is above 38.5 °C), if concerned contact your doctor or nurse for advice.
  • Extra fluids are recommended (for example, water, milk).
  • Keep cool by not overdressing.
  • You can also sponge down with lukewarm water. Cold baths/showers are not recommended.
  • Paracetamol (not aspirin) may be used to help reduce the temperature, follow the manufactures recommended dosage.

Irritability, decreased appetite, sleepiness

  • These symptoms are common in young children and usually disappear over 24 – 48 hours. These symptoms do not usually require any specific treatment, but if they do not resolve or if you are concerned contact your Nurse/Doctor for advice.

Vomiting and diarrhoea

  • Continue to breastfeed, giving small frequent feeds.
  • Wash hands after changing soiled nappies as some vaccine antigen (RotaTeq) can be excreted in the bowel movement (stools).

A small lump may appear at the injection site

  • No treatment is usually required and the swelling will disappear in a few weeks.

Fainting is uncommon; however this may sometimes occur

  • Anyone experiencing light-headedness before or after vaccination is advised to lie down until symptoms subside.

Rare reactions

As with any medication, on rare occasions, an individual may experience a significant reaction (e.g. seizure).

In the event of a significant  reaction, you should see medical advice immediately:

  • Call your local GP or after hours healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222, who will advise you on what to do next. The advice may include calling an ambulance (000) to get immediate assistance.
  • See your family doctor (GP if you are concerned) or if after hours, attend your local hospital Emergency Department for advice.

Seizure (convulsion or fit)

Some children are more prone to seizures when experiencing a high fever. The seizure usually lasts approximately 20 seconds and very rarely more than 2 minutes. If a child experiences a seizure following vaccination they should be checked by their GP or after  hours hospital ED.

Intussusception* (relates to rotavirus)

It is an uncommon form of bowel obstruction where one segment of the bowel slides into the next, much like the pieces of a telescope.

There is a very small risk of this occurring in a baby in the first one to seven days after receiving the first dose of rotavirus vaccine, and a smaller risk after the second dose of rotavirus vaccine. The baby usually experiences bouts of crying, looks pale, gets very irritable and pulls their legs up to the abdomen because of abdominal discomfort/pain.

Anaphylaxis

A severe allergic reaction can occur suddenly, and usually within 15 minutes, however anaphylaxis can occur several hours after vaccine administration. Early signs of anaphylaxis include: redness and/or itching of the skin, swelling (hives), breathing difficulties and a sense of distress.

Vaccine safety

All vaccines used in Australia have been through a safety testing process before being licensed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). This is to ensure that each vaccine is safe to administer and proven to be effective based on clinical trials. You can obtain more information about vaccines and reactions to vaccines from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) (external site) or Immunise Australia (external site).

Reporting reactions

Any serious or unexpected adverse event (reaction) following vaccination should be reported to the Department of Health by:

  • using the Western Australian Vaccination Safety Surveillance (WAVSS) (external site) system (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
  • or downloading and completing a WAVSS adverse reaction reporting form and returning by fax, post or email:
    • Fax: (08) 9426 9408 (24 hours, 7 days a week)
    • Post: Central Immunisation Clinic, PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849
    • Email: wavss@health.wa.gov.au
    • or contacting the Central Immunisation Clinic 9321 1312 (8:30am – 4:30pm) to report your concerns.
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