What to do when you have concerns about your baby's immunizations

It’s understandable for new parents to have reservations about vaccinations and their baby’s health. After all, most parents have heard arguments from both sides of the vaccination debate. On one hand, vaccinations protect your baby from serious and deadly diseases. Diseases like mumps, rubella, measles, diphtheria, tetanus, and even whooping cough have been nearly eradicated because of life-saving vaccinations. On the other hand, it seems like everywhere you turn someone has a story about someone they knew that may have experienced an adverse reaction to a vaccine. Here’s what to do when you have concerns about vaccines for your baby.

Every vaccine can have physical responses

Although most responses to vaccines are minor, every vaccine carries that potential as it stimulates the immune system. Minor physical responses that might affect your baby include:

  • Fussiness
  • Soreness at the injection site
  • Low-grade fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

In rare cases, your baby might experience a more severe response to an immunization. Some possible severe responses might include:

  • Neurological reaction (such as seizures caused by a high fever)
  • Anaphylactic reaction (severe allergic)

Timing and number of vaccinations

It seems like as soon as your baby is born, vaccines are offered. You might feel nervous about pushing vaccines onto your child at so young an age. But, the timing of vaccines has been studied extensively. In fact, most of the diseases that vaccines protect against affect young infants. You could wait to administer vaccines, but if you do, you may be putting your child at risk. 

Vaccines protect against viruses and bacteria. They show portions of the virus or bacteria – called antigens – to the immune system to educate it how to quickly attack and get rid of the real virus or bacteria. Vaccines cannot give you an infection.

It can also seem like there are a lot of vaccines all at once. You might worry about your baby’s immune system being able to handle all of the vaccines. But, the number of antigens your child will get from a vaccine is a small percentage of what they’ll come into contact within any given day.

Additionally, many parents push their doctors to administer vaccines in a delayed schedule. This technique is used for children who are at a higher risk to experience side-effects from vaccines. Unless there's a known health concern, it’s best to stick with the tested and established vaccine schedule set out by your doctor. 

What to do if you have concerns

The best place to find answers about your baby’s immunizations is your child’s doctor. A trusted pediatrician or family physician can answer your questions about timing, conditions, and potential deterrents that might keep your baby from receiving immunizations. These deterrents can include:

  • Your baby has already had the disease the vaccination would protect against (i.e. chickenpox).
  • Your baby or a close family member being immune-compromised.
  • Your baby has a degenerative brain disorder.
  • Your baby has an allergy to the vaccine or vaccine components.

Discuss allergies with your child’s doctor. For example, if your baby is allergic to eggs or certain types of antibiotics you should let your doctor know before any vaccinations are administered. Vaccines can contain small amounts of these allergens. Talking to your child’s doctor will help you get the answers you need about vaccines and your baby.