Reactions to DTaP/ IPV/ Hib, BCG vaccines

Most of the parents we interviewed said that their baby had no reaction after the DTaP/IPV/Hib, Men C immunisations. If any reaction did occur, it was just that they were a little sleepy or irritable for a day or two, but other than that they had been fine. Before their baby's first immunisation, some parents had been advised by their health visitor or GP to give their baby paracetamol to help reduce any symptoms their child may experience. These interviews were conducted before pneumococcal and Men B vaccinations were started. Giving paracetamol after immunisations is now not recommended for most injections, but the Men B vaccination (at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and 12 months) can cause high fevers so parents are now advised to give: 

“A total of three doses of 2.5ml (60mg) of paracetamol are recommended following MenB vaccination. You should give the first dose at the time of vaccination or as soon as possible afterwards. You should then give the second dose of paracetamol around four to six hours later and a third dose four to six hours after that.” NHS June 2018.

During the first year of life, it is recommended that babies have the following immunisations; DTaP/IPV/Hib (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, Polio, Haemophilus influenzae Type b), Men C (Meningococcal C), Men B and pneumococcal vaccine. For guidance on when babies should receive these immunisations, see 'What is immunisation'.

The overwhelming majority of parents believe in immunisation for their children. We have however included here the views of a few parents who do not believe immunisation is right for their own child based on their personal beliefs. Their views represent a small proportion of the population. 

A vaccine, like any medicine, is occasionally capable of causing mild to severe reactions. Mild reactions, such as mild fever, irritability, tiredness or poor appetite, vomiting or a small lump where the injection was given which disappears after a few weeks can occur. Redness, swelling, and tenderness where the injection was given can occur in up to 1 child in 10 with the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine. Mild reactions generally occur 1-3 days after the vaccine.

Sometimes children can react after one set of immunisations but not others. Being a first time mum and seeing their baby not acting himself can be frightening, but most parents said that any reaction disappeared after a few days and their baby returned to how he was before the immunisation.  

Some parents said that their child had a small swelling where the injection had been given that disappeared within 48 hours but in a couple of cases the swelling lasted for up to two weeks. If symptoms persist and parents are concerned, they should contact their GP.

Intermediate reactions, such as a fit (convulsion or seizure), non-stop crying for 3 hours or more, being floppy or very pale or a high fever are uncommon and occur in less than 1 child in 1,000. These kinds of reactions, if they do occur, are likely to happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the injection. A couple of parents whose child had had an intermediate reaction sought advice from a hospital consultant or paediatric immunologist before deciding to go ahead with the remaining immunisations, which were carried out in hospital. Their children had no further reactions. These parents reported that their children continued to develop normally. 

Severe reactions, such as serious allergic reactions, to these first immunisations are very rare (less than 1 out of a million doses). We didn't interview any parents whose child had experienced a severe reaction.

Last reviewed August 2019.
Last updated August 2019.



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