In general, simply taking an antibiotic would not usually be a reason to not get vaccinated.
“Contraindications and precautions to vaccination generally dictate circumstances when vaccines will not be given. Many contraindications and precautions are temporary, and the vaccine can be given at a later time.”
General Recommendations on Immunization
The reason your child is taking the antibiotic could make you want to think about delaying the vaccine though.
Can Your Kids Get a Vaccine While They Are Taking Antibiotics?
Kids are prescribed antibiotics for a lot of different reasons, from treating ear infections and acne to pneumonia and meningitis.
Since a mild acute illness with or without fever isn’t considered a contraindication or precaution to getting vaccinated, in most cases, being on an antibiotic would not cause you to want to skip or delay your child’s vaccines.
In fact, current antimicrobial therapy is listed by the CDC as one of the conditions commonly misperceived as a contraindication or precaution!
There are some exceptions though, including:
taking the antibiotic for a moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever (a general precaution to getting a vaccine)
antimalarial agents and antibiotics might interfere with the Ty21a oral typhoid vaccine
antiviral drugs (Tamiflu, Relenza) might interfere with LAIV4 (FluMist, the nasal spray flu vaccine)
Is your child taking the antibiotic for a mild illness or a more moderate or severe illness for which they are now recovering? Then the fact that they are still taking an antibiotic likely isn’t a contraindication or a precaution to getting vaccinated.
Most people likely think that they need to sign a consent form before getting their kids vaccinated?
Do I Have to Sign a Consent Form Before Getting a Vaccine?
Because many pediatricians and clinics have parents sign a form acknowledging that they have received a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS), so they likely figure that they are required to sign.
While it may be common practice, unless it is required by state law, no one has to actually sign a consent form before getting vaccinated. A signature is not required by federal law.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to get informed consent before giving a vaccine. You just don’t typically need a signature to confirm that you got informed consent.
“Those who are capable of giving consent may do so in writing, orally or by cooperation. Completion of a consent form is not a legal requirement. A signature on a consent form does not itself prove that the consent is valid but it does serve to record the decision that was reached, and the discussions that have taken place. The Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry Final Report (2001) reported that ‘too great a regard is paid to the symbolic act of signing a piece of paper rather than to the real task… which involves explaining what is to take place. ’”
Green Book: Chapter 2 Consent (UK)
So why do you have to sign when your child is getting a vaccine?
“There is no federal requirement for signed consent for any dose of vaccine. The federal requirement is to provide all adult patients or parents/legal representatives of minor children with the appropriate VIS for each dose of vaccine administered… Some clinics, agencies, and/or state immunization programs may have requirements for signatures.”
Ask the Experts About Documenting Vaccination
Although not usually required and the signature shouldn’t be the focus of consent, a signature still helps to confirm that informed consent was provided.
When you take your child to their pediatrician, you expect to be given all of the information you need to help you make good decisions about their care.
Whether it is about an antibiotic to treat an ear infection, the need for an MRI if your child is having severe headaches, or weaning off an asthma medication, etc., you deserve to be well informed of the risks and benefits of any and all procedures they have.
How Do You Provide Informed Consent to Vaccination?
Of course, informed consent also applies to vaccinations.
How do you provide informed consent to vaccination?
Provide the latest edition of the appropriate Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) before a vaccination is given. Although these aren’t actually “informed consent forms,” they are required to be given by federal law and because “cover both benefits and risks associated with vaccinations, they provide enough information that anyone reading them should be adequately informed”
Give parents/guardians the chance to take the VIS home to review later.
Answer any questions about the vaccine that their child is about to get.
Hopefully you always get informed consent before your child is vaccinated.
You should also get informed consent before skipping or delaying any of your child’s vaccines, as it risks their getting a life-threatening vaccine-preventable disease and puts others at risk, all without any extra benefit.
“At trial, the parent and physician both acknowledged that the vaccine was recommended, but the parent stated that the risk of death wasn’t mentioned during the discussion.”
Document ‘informed refusal’ just as you would informed consent
Believe it or not, a pediatrician in California was successfully sued after a parent refused to vaccinate their child with Prevnar and their infant died of pneumococcal sepsis, which the vaccine could have prevented.
Although they realized that their pediatrician had recommended the vaccine and they refused it, they claimed that they didn’t realize that their baby could die without it. He did…
Myths About Informed Consent and Vaccines
Not surprisingly, many folks get the idea of informed consent to vaccination wrong.
For one thing, unless it is required by state law, no one has to sign a consent form before getting vaccinated. Many pediatricians and clinics do have you sign that you received the VIS, although federal law does not require this signature.
“Now that case one is settled, I can go back to being loud and proud about my belief that every single patient should receive complete informed consent prior to vaccinations. This two-year period of silence has been tough. I will not rest until every single family has been given access to full, complete, objective, and un-doctored information that makes every parent fully aware of the risks they accept if they don’t vaccinate their child, and all the risks they take if they do vaccinate their child. Period. And I will fight against mandatory vaccination laws until they are no more. When every single person on this planet has access to informed consent, and can make a free choice, I will then be able to say my work is done.”
Dr. Bob Sears
When Dr. Bob talks about vaccines, do you think he mentions the parents who skipped the Prevnar vaccine and then successfully sued their pediatrician for not warning them that their baby would die?
Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) are produced by the CDC and help vaccine providers inform patients about the benefits and risks of the vaccines they are getting.
In fact, under the National Vaccine Childhood Injury Act, vaccine providers are required to give out a VIS before giving a covered vaccine, including those for:
Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis containing vaccines (DTaP, DT, Td, and Tdap)
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Influenza (both Inactivated and Live, Intranasal vaccines)
Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV13)
Unlike the package insert for a vaccine, “VISs are based on the ACIP’s recommendations, which occasionally differ from those made by the manufacturer. These differences may involve adverse events. Package inserts generally tend to include all adverse events that were temporally associated with a vaccine during clinical trials, whereas ACIP tends to recognize only those believed to be causally linked to the vaccine.” That makes the VIS a better tool to use when doing your research on a vaccine.