Common adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) are usually mild and temporary. They usually occur in the first few days after vaccination. Specific treatment is not usually needed.

If the AEFI is unexpected, persistent or severe, or if you are worried about your or your child’s condition, see your doctor or immunisation nurse as soon as possible, or go directly to a hospital. Seek medical advice if you or your child are unwell, as this may be due to another illness, not because of the vaccination. Report adverse events following immunisation to the Therapeutic Goods Administration or to the Adverse Medicines Events line on 1300 134 237, or check with your immunisation provider about how to report AEFI in your state or territory.

Vaccine

Common AEFI

Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (acellular), DTPa-containing vaccines and dTpa (reduced antigen) vaccines

  • Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Occasionally, an injection-site nodule; may last many weeks; no treatment needed
  • Low-grade fever
  • Children may be irritable, crying, drowsy, tired, unsettled and generally unhappy

Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Hib)

  • Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Occasionally, an injection-site nodule; may last many weeks; no treatment needed
  • Low-grade fever

Hepatitis A vaccine

  • Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Low-grade fever

Hepatitis B vaccine

  • Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Occasionally, an injection-site nodule; may last many weeks; no treatment needed
  • Low-grade fever

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine

  • Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Low-grade fever
  • Mild headache
  • Mild nausea

Influenza vaccine

  • Drowsiness or tiredness
  • Muscle aches
  • Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Occasionally, an injection-site nodule; may last many weeks; no treatment needed
  • Low-grade fever

Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR, MMRV – see also varicella)

  • Occasionally, an injection-site nodule; may last many weeks; no treatment needed

Seen 7–10 days after vaccination:

  • Fever (can be >39.4˚C), lasting 2–3 days, faint red rash (not infectious), head cold and/or runny nose, cough and/or puffy eyes
  • Drowsiness or tiredness
  • Swelling of salivary glands

Meningococcal vaccine

  • Irritable, crying, unsettled and generally unhappy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache (usually in adolescents and adults)
  • Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Occasionally, an injection-site nodule; may last many weeks; no treatment needed
  • Low-grade fever

Pneumococcal vaccines (13vPCV and 23vPPV)

  • Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Occasionally, an injection-site nodule; may last many weeks; no treatment needed
  • Low-grade fever

Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and IPV-containing vaccines

  • Muscle aches
  • Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Occasionally, an injection-site nodule; may last many weeks; no treatment needed
  • Low-grade fever

Rotavirus vaccine

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea can occur up to 7 days following vaccination

Varicella vaccine

  • Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Occasionally, an injection-site nodule; may last many weeks; no treatment needed
  • Fever (can be >39˚C)
  • 5–26 days after vaccination: pustular rash (2–5 lesions), usually at injection site, occasionally elsewhere

Managing injection site discomfort

Many vaccine injections can cause soreness, redness, itching, swelling or burning at the injection site for 1–2 days. Paracetamol might be needed to ease the discomfort. Sometimes a small, hard lump (nodule) at the injection site may persist for some weeks or months. This should not be of concern and requires no treatment.

Managing fever after immunisation

Give extra fluids to drink. Do not overdress the baby if hot. Although routine use of paracetamol after vaccination is not recommended, it can be given if the person has a fever. The dose of paracetamol for a child up to 12 years of age is 15 mg/kg/dose, every 4–6 hours, up to 4 times a day. Adults and children aged ≥12 years can receive 500 to 1000 mg every 4–6 hours. Do not give paracetamol for more than 48 hours without seeking medical advice.

 

Previous

Table. Responses to conditions or circumstances identified through the pre-vaccination screening checklist

Next

Table. Upper age limits for dosing of oral rotavirus vaccines

Last updated: 
9 June 2018
Last reviewed: 
9 June 2018

Definitions

DTPa
diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis vaccine
dTpa
diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis vaccine, reduced antigen content formulation
MMR
measles-mumps-rubella
MMRV
measles-mumps-rubella-varicella
13vPCV
13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
23vPPV
23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine
IPV
inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine