Children & Side Effects after Vaccination

Safety is one of the most important considerations when it comes to any kind of treatment, including vaccination. While side effects are sometimes to be expected it is important to know when they are a sign of something more serious, and it is often hard to evaluate a drug’s effect on the wider public before it has entered circulation. This is why side effects are closely monitored, and in this article we look at what you can do if your child experiences any side effects after receiving a vaccine.

What side effects are normal?

Most treatments, vaccines included, can cause some side effects. These vary from person to person and vaccine to vaccine, but there are some general symptoms which your doctor or nurse will probably make you aware of that are perfectly normal. These include:

  • A mild fever
  • Any redness, inflammation, swelling, or pain around the site of injection (if a vaccine has been injected).
  • Some gastrointestinal symptoms are expected from certain vaccines (your doctor will warn you if there is a chance of such symptoms).
  • Irritability (younger children often cry more frequently after vaccination and this is a clear sign of irritability).
  • Malaise
  • Fatigue and muscle ache

These are all relatively common side effects of vaccination which are perfectly normal and to be expected. If you do have concerns it is always advisable to talk to your GP or practice nurse, but in most cases these mild symptoms will pass within a couple of days.

What side effects should I be looking out for?

Adverse reactions to vaccines vary and what symptoms are observed do vary from person to person. Generally speaking if you observe any side effects that you haven’t been warned against by your GP, nurse, or even the NHS Choices website, you should err on the side of caution and talk to your doctor. Examples of adverse reactions include a high fever and severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

Reporting adverse effects after vaccination

Drug monitoring is taken very seriously in the UK, and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is an organisation responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all drugs and vaccines. The MHRA is the organisation to whom all adverse reactions are reported, and this information is collated and used as part of an on-going  monitoring scheme that ensures that the public is kept safe from any harmful drugs.

The MHRA’s side effect scheme is called the Yellow Card system, and through this doctors, nurses, dentists, and the general public can report any and all adverse reactions that occur after a drug or vaccine has been used.

You can report the effects yourself, or you can speak to a healthcare professional who will submit a report on your behalf. There is an online system which is easy and convenient to use, but if you would prefer then you can find and use specific Yellow Card forms from either your local pharmacy or surgery. The Yellow Card scheme also operates a hotline to which reports can be submitted.

It is important to report any serious adverse effects to this scheme because it is an important mechanism by which harmful drugs are detected. If the risk-benefit ratio of a particular vaccine leans more towards the former, then chances are that the MHRA will retract the vaccination to prevent any further harm being done. That being said, the processes involved in ensuring the safety and efficacy of drugs prior to their release is rigorous enough that this almost never occurs.

An important point to make is also that in many cases symptoms observed after the administration of a vaccine may have nothing to do with the vaccination itself. In many cases there will be a different underlying cause, and the administration of the vaccine itself could just be an unfortunate coincidence. It is the MHRA’s job to determine whether or not that is the case, and receiving information from the general public is very useful in finding out whether certain adverse reactions are isolated incidences or a result of a particular vaccination.

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