While not as common as some folks think, there are contraindications to getting vaccines.
That’s where medical exemptions for vaccines are used.
Most of these contraindications are specific to one or a few vaccines, such as having a severe allergic reaction, a known severe immunodeficiency, or being pregnant, etc.
For example, you wouldn’t get a live virus vaccine if you had severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID), but you should get all of the other inactivated vaccines.
When thinking that a contraindication should apply to all vaccines, remember that:
“The vaccines are all made differently. They’re all based on different biological principles,” said Dr. Paul Offit, infectious diseases expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “I can’t understand how a physician could conclude that a person shouldn’t get any vaccines” for the rest of childhood.
And while some are permanent contraindications (a severe allergic reaction), others are temporary. For example, having a “moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever” is a precaution to getting most vaccines, but you can get vaccinated as soon as you get over the acute illness.
Also keep in mind that many things are falsely seen as contraindications to getting vaccinated, such as being autistic or having a sibling with autism.
For more information:
- Chart of Contraindications and Precautions to Commonly Used Vaccines
- Conditions Commonly Misperceived as Contraindications to Vaccination
- Screening Checklist for Contraindications to Vaccines
- Ask the Experts: Vaccine Precautions and Contraindications
- General Recommendations on Immunization: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
- Why Most Vaccine Injury Stories Aren’t True
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