Do Vaccines have side-effects?

As a parent you love your baby so much that you want to spare them any pain…protect them from every bump…or fall or sickness and this includes the inevitable pain of the shot.

Vaccines are the best gift that you can give your baby as they forearm your bundle of joy with protection against several serious diseases. As parents, it is natural to have misgivings about anything that will cause pain to your little angel. But remember that these shots will equip your child’s immune system with the power to conquer certain infections which once upon a time, before the advent of vaccines raged as epidemics and caused suffering and even death. A vaccine may contain harmless parts of germs or dead germs which helps your baby’s immune system recognize them and learn how to defend itself against common preventable infections like mumps, measles or typhoid.

As a parent, it is natural to have misgivings about the discomfort of vaccines and their likely side-effects. Like any medicine, vaccination can give your baby certain discomforts but these are usually very minor.  Vaccines are usually injected in the arm or the inner thigh. The site of injection is likely to be sore, red or swollen for a couple of days. Your baby may develop a slight fever and may be unable to move the limb for some time. In some babies, there is a swelling in the lymph nodes of the thighs or the arm-pits. Some children may lose their appetite and refuse meals. They may be irritable and restless and stay awake at night and keep you awake too. But don’t worry, these usually clear out within a few days. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as allergic reaction, are very rare. Always observe your baby closely for a few days after vaccination.  If any of the side-effects persist even after a few days and your baby seems agitated and unwell, please do not hesitate to consult your pediatrician.

Tips to deal with post-vaccination effects

  • Apply cold compress or ice wrapped in a towel at the site of vaccination.
  • Nurse your baby more frequently for a few days following the vaccination.
  • Do not force your baby to move his/ her thigh or arm.
  • Spend more time with him/ her.
  • Give your baby the benefit of touch therapy…hold him/ her close or give him/ her more caresses, pats and hugs.

Another common concern among many parents is whether these vaccines which contain weakened or dead germs can themselves cause infections. Vaccines which contain only parts of organisms or dead organisms are highly unlikely to give that disease to your baby. In very rare cases, if the vaccine contains an inactive or a weakened form of the organism like in the measles, mumps, rubella or the chicken pox vaccine, there may be a much milder form of that infection. But it will be nowhere close to a full-blown bout of that infection.

The pain and crying when given the shot …to mild side-effects; the protection offered by vaccines makes all this seem worth it. The little discomfort now is nothing as compared to the pain of seeing him/ her suffer from the symptoms and the complications of a severe infection like mumps or measles in the future. These pricks pave the way to protection as severe infections can cause delay in milestones, hinder your baby’s academic and physical performance and steal priceless moments of childhood. So, do not worry too much about the side-effects of vaccination and go ahead …vaccinate to protect.

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