Tag: side effects

How Long Do Side Effects of Immunizations Last?

Immunizations are safe, but they can have some risks and side effects.

Vaccine side effects can be reported to VAERS online or using a downloadable form.
Vaccine adverse events can be reported to VAERS online or using a downloadable form.

Fortunately, most are fairly mild, like pain and fever.

How Long Do Side Effects of Immunizations Last?

And most vaccine side effects go away quickly.

For example, fever and fussiness, two of the most common vaccine reactions, typically only lasts a day or two.

Others can last a little longer, but still usually go away on their own:

  • when kids get a rash after their MMR vaccine, it might last three or four days
  • even when kids get swelling of an entire arm or leg after the DTaP shot is given, it might last for 1–7 days
  • pain at the injection site typically only lasts a few days
  • shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA) can last months and sometimes doesn’t go away
  • arthritis after a rubella containing vaccine, which mostly occurs in adults, typically only lasts a few days
  • febrile seizures are usually brief and rarely lead to non-febrile seizures
  • immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) after a measles containing vaccine resolves in two weeks to six months, typically without any treatment
  • intussusception after a rotavirus vaccine resolves with treatment, either an air contrast enema or surgery
  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome after a seasonal flu vaccine, which is very rare, resolves in the majority of people over a period of years

Do any have more long lasting effects?

VAPP or vaccine-associated paralytic polio after the oral polio vaccine might not resolve. Fortunately, it only occurs in about 1 in every 1.27 million children receiving their first dose of OPV. It is even less common after bOPV, which is oral polio vaccine that is now being used. And won’t happen at all once we stop using oral polio vaccines.

Encephalitis or encephalopathy after a pertussis or a measles, mumps, and rubella virus containing vaccine might also lead to long lasting effects.

And some, like anaphylaxis, are life-threatening.

Fortunately, most long-term vaccine studies have shown that immunizations are safe, rarely causing severe reactions, and don’t have many long term side effects.

What to Know About How Long Immunization Side Effects Last

Most vaccine side effects are mild and only last a few days.

More on Immunization Side Effects

Do Flu Vaccines Have More Reported Side Effects Than Other Vaccines?

Flu vaccines are safe, with few side effects.

Anti-vaccine propaganda scares people about flu shots.

So why do some people think that they are dangerous and have a lot of side effects?

Do Flu Vaccines Have More Reported Side Effects Than Other Vaccines?

Unlike most things anti-vaccine folks say, there is a hint of truth to the idea that flu vaccines have more reported side effects than other vaccines.

Why?

Just over 160 million doses of flu vaccine will be distributed in the United States this season.
Just over 160 million doses of flu vaccine will be distributed in the United States this season.

Since 2006, over 1.6 trillion doses of flu vaccine have been distributed in the United States, which equals about the combined total of all the other vaccines we use, including DTaP, rotavirus, hepatitis B, MMR, Tdap, and HPV, etc.

Overall, since we give so many more flu vaccines than any other vaccine, we can expect to get more reports of side effects from those flu vaccines.

That’s simple math.

On the other hand though, after getting a flu vaccine, you should not expect to have any extra side effects as compared to getting any other vaccine.

Remember, side effects from flu vaccines are generally mild and go away quickly. And more serious side effects are rare.

Get your flu vaccine and avoid getting the flu.

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What Is Standard of Care?

Anti-vaccine folks who are talking about “standard of care” when deciding who gets a medical exemption for vaccines obviously don’t really understand what it means.

Why are these advocating against keeping kids protected against life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases?
Why are these advocating against keeping kids protected against life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases?

Maybe that’s why they put standard of care in quotes in the above infographic against SB276, a new vaccine bill in California that will eliminate fake vaccine exemptions.

What Is Standard of Care?

When we talk about standard of care in medicine, it is important to understand that it is a legal term, with a legal definition:

“That which a minimally competent physician in the same field would do under similar circumstances”

Moffett et al on The Standard of Care: Legal History and Definitions: the Bad and Good News

Does this mean that the minimally competent physicians can choose whatever criteria they want to write fake medical exemptions for vaccines?

Of course not!

“Treatment that is accepted by medical experts as a proper treatment for a certain type of disease and that is widely used by healthcare professionals. Also called best practice, standard medical care, and standard therapy.”

NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

Just because a few doctors do something a certain way, that doesn’t make it the proper way for it to be done.

These are among the common conditions that the AAP says should NOT delay vaccination and which are often mistakenly thought to qualify someone for a medical exemption.
These are among the common conditions that the AAP says should NOT delay vaccination and which are often mistakenly thought to qualify someone for a medical exemption.

And that’s why a doctor making up their own rules for what counts as a vaccine medical exemption, especially when it goes against published guidelines and advice, isn’t standard of care.

More on Standard of Care

How Often Do Severe Events Occur After Vaccines?

Most of us understand that vaccine reactions are usually mild. While severe events can occur after vaccines, they are very rare.

“That measles infections can cause neurologic side effects on rare occasions is known, but the complication rate for vaccinations is low. After infectious measles encephalitis, risk of an autistic regression has occurred in 1/1000 to 1/10,000 cases. If the trend toward delaying vaccination continues because parents remain misinformed about the MMR, the number of children with neurologic complications of measles or rubella will increase. ”

Chez et al on Immunizations, Immunology, and Autism

Unfortunately, being worried about severe reactions sometimes scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

How Often Do Severe Events Occur After Vaccines?

Hopefully, realizing just how rare these severe reactions are will help more parents understand that all of the benefits of vaccines (very big) truly do outweigh the risks (very small).

How often do severe events occur after MMR vaccines?
How often do severe events occur after MMR vaccines?

So how often do these events occur?

Are there any statistics?

Using the MMR vaccine information statement as an example, we see that it lists the following severe events:

  • deafness – which is so rare to be associated with MMR that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine
  • long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness – which is so rare to be associated with MMR that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine
  • brain damage – which is so rare to be associated with MMR that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine
  • severe allergic reaction – which occurs in less than 1 out of a million doses
  • serious injury or death – which is so rare to be associated with MMR that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine

Wait.

Why can’t we tell if these problems are caused by the vaccine?

In some cases, the association is based on a few case reports.

“With respect to the recent claims of deaths caused by MMR vaccine, drawing broad cause and effect conclusions between vaccination and deaths based on spontaneous reports to VAERS, some of which might be anecdotal or second hand, is not a scientifically valid practice. In fact, a review of the VAERS data reveals that many of the death reports for MMR vaccine involved children with serious preexisting medical conditions or were likely unrelated to vaccination (e.g., accidents). These complete VAERS reports and any accompanying medical records, autopsy reports and death certificates have been reviewed in depth by FDA and CDC physicians and no concerning patterns have emerged that would suggest a causal relationship with the MMR vaccine and death.”

Miller et al on Deaths following vaccination: What does the evidence show?

Mostly though, these type of severe events just occur so rarely after getting vaccinated.

“As for vaccines causing death, again so few deaths can plausibly be attributed to vaccines that it is hard to assess the risk statistically.”

WHO on Six common misconceptions about immunization

At a rate of less than 1 in a million doses, it gets hard to know if something was really caused by the vaccine or if it was just a coincidence, as you don’t have a lot of cases to compare with each other.

Still, it should be reassuring that even if they were caused by the vaccine, these serious events are extremely rare.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks.

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