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

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What are the risks from DTaP vaccine?

  • Redness, soreness, swelling, and tenderness where the shot is given are common after DTaP.
  • Fever, fussiness, tiredness, poor appetite, and vomiting sometimes happen 1 to 3 days 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.
  • Long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, or permanent brain damage happen extremely rarely 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?

A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of a vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. Serious problems from rabies vaccine are very rare.

Mild problems

  • soreness, redness, swelling, or itching where the shot was given (30% – 74%)
  • headache, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, dizziness (5% – 40%)

Moderate problems

  • hives, pain in the joints, fever (about 6% of booster doses)

Other nervous system disorders, such as Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS), have been reported after rabies vaccine, but this happens so rarely that it is not known whether they are related to the vaccine.

NOTE: Several brands of rabies vaccine are available in the United States, and reactions may vary between brands. Your provider can give you more information about a particular brand.

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?

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

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

Mild Problems following Td vaccine:
(Did not interfere with activities)

  • Pain where the shot was given (about 8 people in 10)
  • Redness or swelling where the shot was given (about 1 person in 4)
  • Mild fever (rare)
  • Headache (about 1 person in 4)
  • Tiredness (about 1 person in 4)

Moderate Problems following Td vaccine:
(Interfered with activities, but did not require medical attention)

  • Fever over 102°F (rare)

Severe Problems following Td vaccine
(Unable to perform usual activities; required medical attention)

  • Swelling, severe pain, bleeding and/or redness in the arm where the shot was given (rare).

Problems that could happen after any 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 doctor if you feel dizzy, or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
  • Some people get severe pain in the shoulder and have difficulty moving the arm where a shot was given. This happens very rarely.
  • Any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at fewer than 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 Td VIS.

What are the risks from Tdap vaccine?

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

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

Mild problems following Tdap:
(Did not interfere with activities)

  • Pain where the shot was given (about 3 in 4 adolescents or 2 in 3 adults)
  • Redness or swelling where the shot was given (about 1 person in 5)
  • Mild fever of at least 100.4°F (up to about 1 in 25 adolescents or 1 in 100 adults)
  • Headache (about 3 or 4 people in 10)
  • Tiredness (about 1 person in 3 or 4)
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache (up to 1 in 4 adolescents or 1 in 10 adults)
  • Chills, sore joints (about 1 person in 10)
  • Body aches (about 1 person in 3 or 4)
  • Rash, swollen glands (uncommon)

Moderate problems following Tdap:
(Interfered with activities, but did not require medical attention)

  • Pain where the shot was given (up to 1 in 5 or 6)
  • Redness or swelling where the shot was given (up to about 1 in 16 adolescents or 1 in 12 adults)
  • Fever over 102°F (about 1 in 100 adolescents or 1 in 250 adults)
  • Headache (about 1 in 7 adolescents or 1 in 10 adults)
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache (up to 1 or 3 people in 100)
  • Swelling of the entire arm where the shot was given (up to about 1 in 500).

Severe problems following Tdap:
(Unable to perform usual activities; required medical attention)

  • Swelling, severe pain, bleeding, and redness in the arm where the shot was given (rare).

Problems that could happen after any 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 doctor if you feel dizzy, or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
  • Some people get severe pain in the shoulder and have difficulty moving the arm where a shot was given. This happens very rarely.
  • Any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at fewer than 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.


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

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

Mild Problems following Td vaccine:
(Did not interfere with activities)

  • Pain where the shot was given (about 8 people in 10)
  • Redness or swelling where the shot was given (about 1 person in 4)
  • Mild fever (rare)
  • Headache (about 1 person in 4)
  • Tiredness (about 1 person in 4)

Moderate Problems following Td vaccine:
(Interfered with activities, but did not require medical attention)

  • Fever over 102°F (rare)

Severe Problems following Td vaccine
(Unable to perform usual activities; required medical attention)

  • Swelling, severe pain, bleeding and/or redness in the arm where the shot was given (rare).

Problems that could happen after any 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 doctor if you feel dizzy, or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
  • Some people get severe pain in the shoulder and have difficulty moving the arm where a shot was given. This happens very rarely.
  • Any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at fewer than 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 Tdap VIS.

What are the risks from chickenpox vaccine?

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This information is based on the Varicella VIS.

What are the risks from Yellow Fever vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, could cause a serious reaction. But the risk of a vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely low.

Mild problems

Yellow fever vaccine has been associated with fever, and with aches, soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given.

These problems occur in up to 1 person out of 4. They usually begin soon after the shot, and can last up to a week.

Severe problems

  • Severe allergic reaction to a vaccine component (about 1 person in 55,000).
  • Severe nervous system reaction (about 1 person in 125,000).
  • Life-threatening severe illness with organ failure (about 1 person in 250,000). More than half the people who suffer this side effect die.

These last two problems have never been reported after a booster dose.

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?

A vaccine, like any medicine, could cause a serious reaction. But the risk of a vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

Mild Problems

Several mild problems have been reported within 2 weeks of getting the vaccine:

  • headaches, upper respiratory tract infection (about 1 person in 3)
  • stuffy nose, sore throat, joint pain (about 1 person in 6)
  • abdominal pain, cough, nausea (about 1 person in 7)
  • diarrhea (about 1 person in 10)
  • fever (about 1 person in 100)

Serious Problems

More serious problems have been reported by about 1 person in 100, within 6 months of vaccination. These problems included:

  • blood in the urine or stool
  • pneumonia
  • inflammation of the stomach or intestines

It is not clear whether these mild or serious problems were caused by the vaccine or occurred after vaccination by chance.

As with all vaccines, adenovirus vaccine will continue to be monitored for unexpected or severe problems.

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?

Anthrax is a very serious disease, and the risk of serious harm from the anthrax vaccine is extremely small. With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of reactions. These are usually mild and go away on their own.

Minor events:

  • Reactions on the arm where the shot was given:
    • Tenderness
    • Redness
    • Itching
    • Lump
    • Bruise
  • Muscle aches or temporary limitation of arm movement
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

Other things that could happen after this vaccine:

  • People sometimes faint after medical procedures, 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 routine soreness that can follow injections. This happens very rarely.
  • Any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions to a vaccine are 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 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: August 15, 2019