Vaccines When Your Child Is Sick

It’s okay to get vaccinated, even if your child has a mild illness.

Children can still get vaccines – even with a fever or mild illness

Because a mild illness does not affect how well the body responds to a vaccine, your child can still be vaccinated if he or she has:

  • A low grade fever
  • A cold, runny nose, or cough
  • An ear infection (otitis media)
  • Mild diarrhea

 Doctors at leading health organizations, like the American Academy of Pediatricsexternal icon and the American Academy of Family Physiciansexternal icon, recommend that children with mild illnesses receive vaccinations on schedule.

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There is no health benefit to waiting to vaccinate your child if he or she has a mild illness. It’s important that children get their vaccines on time so they’re protected against serious diseases.

Vaccines do not make a mild illness worse

Vaccines only have a tiny fraction of the bacteria and viruses that children encounter naturally. Because of this, the immune system can handle getting vaccines and fighting minor illnesses at the same time.

Vaccines do not make symptoms of illness worse. Like any medication, vaccines may cause mild side effects, like a low fever or soreness or swelling where the shot was given. To help with discomfort from these side effects, put a cool, wet washcloth on the sore area or ask your child’s doctor about using pain- or fever-reducing medicine. These side effects are very minor and soon go away.

Children taking antibiotics can get vaccines

Antibiotics will not affect how your child’s body responds to vaccines. Children taking antibiotics for a mild illness should not delay vaccines.

Serious illness may affect the vaccines your child gets

Mother taking son's temperature.

Children with moderate or serious illness—with or without fever—may need to wait until they are better to get some vaccines.

Your child may not receive some vaccines if he or she has:

  • A chronic health condition (like cancer)
  • A weakened immune system (like if undergoing chemotherapy or taking certain medications after a transplant)
  • Had a severe allergic reaction to previous dose of a vaccine or an ingredient in a vaccine

If your child has a serious illness or medical condition, talk to your child’s doctor or nurse. They can help to determine which vaccines your child can and cannot get at each visit and how to best protect your child’s health.

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Page last reviewed: September 7, 2021