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How to Care for Children After Vaccination

By Kay Ireland ; Updated April 18, 2017
Your child may experience some pain at the injection site.

It can seem like a necessary evil: allowing your child to endure pain as a method of building up her immune system through vaccinations. And while the brunt of immunizations were probably done when your child was just a baby, there are a few that she'll need before she starts kindergarten and again in the 7th grade. You'll need to watch for reactions after the immunization, but mostly you'll need to give your child some extra love and comfort.

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Offer liquids when you get home from the doctor's office. Fever is often a side effect of immunizations, which can mean your child gets a little warm. Offering cool liquids can help reduce fever, suggests the Immunization Action Coalition. You can also dress her in light clothes to help lower her temperature. If your child's fever is over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, contact your doctor immediately, suggests Seattle Children's Hospital.

Apply a cool washcloth to the injection site if your child complains of pain or swelling. It's common for the injection site to be sore or tender for a few hours after the immunization. You can also try an ice pack or frozen bag of vegetables to help reduce swelling and numb the pain.

Give your child acetaminophen to help reduce pain, swelling and fever, after clearing it with your doctor. Always ask your pediatrician first to make sure there aren't any possible interactions between the immunization and the medicine, and then check the dosage instructions on the packaging. Never give a child aspirin, which could lead to an illness known as Reye's syndrome.

Offer plenty of extra love and care in the hours after an immunization. Even older children get anxious about shots and can become cranky or tired afterward. Her favorite snack, a blanket on the couch with a good movie and extra attention can go a long way in helping your child feel better after the ordeal.

Call your doctor immediately if your child has reactions to the immunization, warns the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some of the most serious symptoms include behavioral changes, high fever, hoarseness, wheezing, trouble breathing, increased heartbeat, hives, dizziness or a swelling of the throat. Record when the reaction occurred and when the vaccination was given so that your doctor can give you the necessary instructions.

Things You Will Need

  • Acetaminophen
  • Washcloth
  • Ice pack or frozen bag of vegetables
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About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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