Possible Side effects from Vaccines

Any vaccine can cause side effects. For the most part these are minor (for example, a sore arm or low-grade fever) and go away within a few days. Listed below are vaccines licensed in the United States and side effects that have been associated with each of them. This information is copied directly from CDC’s Vaccine Information Statements (VISs), which in turn are derived from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations for each vaccine.

Remember, vaccines are continually monitored for safety, and like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. However, a decision not to immunize a child also involves risk and could put the child and others who come into contact with him or her at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease.

Regularly Recommended Vaccines

VISs en españolexternal icon, other languagesexternal icon

What are the risks from DTaP vaccine?

  • Soreness or swelling where the shot was given, fever, fussiness, feeling tired, loss of appetite, and vomiting sometimes happen after DTaP vaccination.
  • More serious reactions, such as seizures, non-stop crying for 3 hours or more, or high fever (over 105°F) after DTaP vaccination happen much less often. Rarely, the vaccine is followed by swelling of the entire arm or leg, especially in older children when they receive their fourth or fifth dose.
  • Very rarely, long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, or permanent brain damage may happen after DTaP vaccination.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the DTaP VIS.

What are the risks from hepatitis A vaccine?

With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own, but serious reactions are also possible.

Most people who get hepatitis A vaccine do not have any problems with it.

Minor problems following hepatitis A vaccine include:

  • soreness or redness where the shot was given
  • low-grade fever
  • headache
  • tiredness

If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1 or 2 days.

Your doctor can tell you more about these reactions.

Other problems that could happen after this vaccine:

  • People sometimes faint after a medical procedure, including vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes can help prevent fainting, and injuries caused by a fall. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy, or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
  • Some people get shoulder pain that can be more severe and longer lasting than the more routine soreness that can follow injections. This happens very rarely.
  • Any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at about 1 in a million doses, and would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.

The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. For more information, visit the vaccine safety site.

This information is based on the Hepatitis A VIS.

What are the risks from hepatitis B vaccine?

  • Soreness where the shot is given or fever can happen after hepatitis B vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Hepatitis B VIS.

What are the risks from Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine?

  • Redness, warmth, and swelling where shot is given, and fever can happen after Hib vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Hib VIS.

What are the risks from HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine?

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot is given can happen after HPV vaccine.
  • Fever or headache can happen after HPV vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the HPV (Human Papillomavirus).

What are the risks from inactivated influenza vaccine?

  • Soreness, redness, and swelling where shot is given, fever, muscle aches, and headache can happen after influenza vaccine.
  • There may be a very small increased risk of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) after inactivated influenza vaccine (the flu shot).

Young children who get the flu shot along with pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13), and/or DTaP vaccine at the same time might be slightly more likely to have a seizure caused by fever. Tell your health care provider if a child who is getting flu vaccine has ever had a seizure.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Inactivated Influenza VIS.

What are the risks from LAIV?

  • Runny nose or nasal congestion, wheezing and headache can happen after LAIV.
  • Vomiting, muscle aches, fever, sore throat and cough are other possible side effects.

If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after vaccination and are mild and short-lived.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the LAIV VIS.

What are the risks from MMR vaccine?

  • Soreness, redness, or rash where the shot is given and rash all over the body can happen after MMR vaccine.
  • Fever or swelling of the glands in the cheeks or neck sometimes occur after MMR vaccine.
  • More serious reactions happen rarely. These can include seizures (often associated with fever), temporary pain and stiffness in the joints (mostly in teenage or adult women), pneumonia, swelling of the brain and/or spinal cord covering, or temporary low platelet count which can cause unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • In people with serious immune system problems, this vaccine may cause an infection which may be life-threatening. People with serious immune system problems should not get MMR vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the MMR VIS.

What are the risks from MMRV vaccine?

  • Soreness, redness, or rash where the shot is given can happen after MMRV vaccine.
  • Fever or swelling of the glands in the cheeks or neck sometimes occur after MMRV vaccine.
  • Seizures, often associated with fever, can happen after MMRV vaccine. The risk of seizures is higher after MMRV than after separate MMR and varicella vaccines when given as the first dose of the series in younger children. Your health care provider can advise you about the appropriate vaccines for your child.
  • More serious reactions happen rarely. These can include pneumonia, swelling of the brain and/or spinal cord covering, or temporary low platelet count which can cause unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • In people with serious immune system problems, this vaccine may cause an infection which may be life-threatening. People with serious immune system problems should not get MMRV vaccine.

It is possible for a vaccinated person to develop a rash. If this happens, it could be related to the varicella component of the vaccine, and the varicella vaccine virus could be spread to an unprotected person. Anyone who gets a rash should stay away from people with a weakened immune system and infants until the rash goes away.  Talk with your health care provider to learn more.

Some people who are vaccinated against chickenpox get shingles (herpes zoster) years later. This is much less common after vaccination than after chickenpox disease.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the MMRV VIS.

What are the risks from meningococcal vaccines?

  • Redness or soreness where the shot is given can happen after meningococcal ACWY vaccine.
  • A small percentage of people who receive meningococcal ACWY vaccine experience muscle or joint pains.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Meningococcal ACWY VIS.

What are the risks from meningococcal vaccines?

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot is given, tiredness, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, fever, chills, nausea, or diarrhea can happen after meningococcal B vaccine. Some of these reactions occur in more than half of the people who receive the vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Meningococcal B VIS.

What are the risks from PCV13?

  • Redness, swelling, pain, or tenderness where the shot is given, and fever, loss of appetite, fussiness (irritability), feeling tired, headache, and chills can happen after PCV13.

Young children may be at increased risk for seizures caused by fever after PCV13 if it is administered at the same time as inactivated influenza vaccine. Ask your health care provider for more information.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV13) VIS.

What are the risks from PPSV?

  • Redness or pain where the shot is given, feeling tired, fever, or muscle aches can happen after PPSV23.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Pneumococcal Polysaccharide VIS.

  • A sore spot with redness, swelling, or pain where the shot is given can happen after polio vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the IPV VIS.

What are the risks from rabies vaccine?

  • Soreness, redness, swelling, or itching at the site of the injection, and headache, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, or dizziness can happen after rabies vaccine.
  • Hives, pain in the joints, or fever sometimes happen after booster doses.
  • Very rarely, nervous system disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) have been reported after rabies vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Rabies VIS.

What are the risks from rotavirus vaccine?

  • Irritability or mild, temporary diarrhea or vomiting can happen after rotavirus vaccine.

Intussusception is a type of bowel blockage that is treated in a hospital and could require surgery. It happens naturally in some infants every year in the United States, and usually there is no known reason for it.  There is also a small risk of intussusception from rotavirus vaccination, usually within a week after the first or second vaccine dose. This additional risk is estimated to range from about 1 in 20,000 US infants to 1 in 100,000 US infants who get rotavirus vaccine. Your health care provider can give you more information.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Rotavirus VIS.

What are the risks from Td vaccine?

  • Pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, mild fever, headache, feeling tired, and nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomachache sometimes happen after Td vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Td VIS.

What are the risks from Tdap vaccine?

  • Pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, mild fever, headache, feeling tired, and nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomachache sometimes happen after Tdap vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Tdap VIS.

What are the risks from chickenpox vaccine?

Textbox module not selected or not found.

This information is based on the Varicella VIS.

What are the risks from Yellow Fever vaccine?

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given are common after yellow fever vaccine.
  • Fever sometimes happens.
  • Headache and muscle aches can occur.
  • More serious reactions happen rarely after yellow fever vaccine. These can include:
    • Nervous system reactions such as inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and/or spinal cord covering (meningitis), or Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), among others.
    • Life-threatening severe illness with organ dysfunction or failure.

People 60 years and older and people with weakened immune systems might be more likely to experience serious reactions to yellow fever vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Yellow Fever VIS.

What are the risks from live shingles vaccine?

  • Redness, soreness, swelling, or itching at the site of the injection and headache can happen after live shingles vaccine.

Rarely, live shingles vaccine can cause rash or shingles.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Live Shingles VIS.

What are the risks from recombinant shingles vaccine?

  • A sore arm with mild or moderate pain is very common after recombinant shingles vaccine, affecting about 80% of vaccinated people. Redness and swelling can also happen at the site of the injection.
  • Tiredness, muscle pain, headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, and nausea happen after vaccination in more than half of people who receive recombinant shingles vaccine.

In clinical trials, about 1 out of 6 people who got recombinant zoster vaccine experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms usually went away on their own in 2 to 3 days.

You should still get the second dose of recombinant zoster vaccine even if you had one of these reactions after the first dose.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Recombinant Shingles VIS.

Travel & Special Circumstance Vaccines

What are the risks from Adenovirus vaccine?

  • Headache, upper respiratory tract infection, stuffy nose, sore throat, abdominal pain, cough, nausea, diarrhea, fever or joint pain can happen after adenovirus vaccine.
  • More serious problems including blood in the urine or stool, pneumonia, or inflammation of the stomach or intestines occur rarely after adenovirus vaccination.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

Note: Adenovirus vaccine is approved for use only among military personnel.

This information is based on the Adenovirus VIS.

What are the risks from anthrax vaccine?

After getting a shot of anthrax vaccine, you may have:

  • Tenderness, redness, itching, or a lump or bruise where the shot is given
  • Muscle aches or short-term trouble moving your arm
  • Headaches or fatigue

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Anthrax VIS.

What are the risks from Cholera vaccine?

  • Tiredness, headache, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and diarrhea can happen after cholera vaccine.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Cholera VIS.

What are the risks from Japanese encephalitis vaccine?

  • Pain, tenderness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given are common after JE vaccine.
  • Fever sometimes happens (more often in children).
  • Headache or muscle aches can occur (mainly in adults).

Studies have shown that severe reactions to JE vaccine are very rare.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the JE-Ixiaro VIS.

This medication guide replaces the Smallpox VIS. It is to be used before one receives the vaccination. Medical Guide for vaccination with ACAM2000 pdf icon[6 pages]external icon (10/1/09)

What are the risks from typhoid vaccine?

  • Pain from the shot, redness, or swelling at the site of the injection, fever, and headache, and general discomfort can happen after inactivated typhoid vaccine.
  • Fever, headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting can happen after live typhoid vaccine.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

This information is based on the Typhoid VIS.

Page last reviewed: April 2, 2020