Vaccines When Your Child Is Sick

Children with mild illness may still get vaccines – even if they have a fever

Mother and child with doctor.

A mild illness is usually not a reason to reschedule vaccinations. Your doctor can help you decide which vaccines your child can still receive safely.

Doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend that children with mild illnesses can usually receive their vaccinations on schedule. Mild illness does not affect how well the body responds to a vaccine.

Mild illnesses include:

  • Low grade fever (less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • A cold, runny nose or cough
  • Ear infection (otitis media)
  • Mild diarrhea

There is no health benefit to waiting to vaccinate your child if he or she has a mild illness.

Vaccines do not make a mild illness worse

Vaccines do not make symptoms of illness worse – though they may cause mild side effects. These may include:

  • Low grade fever
  • Soreness or swelling where the shot was given

To help with discomfort from these side effects, try one of these tips:

  • Put a cool, wet washcloth on the sore area
  • Ask your child’s doctor about using pain- or fever-reducing medicine.

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

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: August 3, 2016