Vaccine Safety FAQs for Parents and Caregivers

Are vaccines safe for children?

Yes. The United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. Years of testing are required by law to ensure that vaccines are safe before they are made available in the United States. This process can take 10 years or longer. Once a vaccine is in use, the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitor any possible side effects reported through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and other vaccine safety systems. Any hint of a problem with a vaccine prompts the CDC and FDA to carry out further investigations. If researchers find that a vaccine might be causing a problem, CDC and/or FDA can:

  • Change vaccine labels or packaging
  • Issue safety alerts
  • Inspect manufacturers’ facilities and records
  • Withdraw recommendations for the use of the vaccine
  • Revoke the vaccine’s license
doctor checking a baby with stethoscope

Should all children get vaccinated?

While vaccines are safe and recommended for most children, some children should not get certain vaccines for medical reasons. Children with certain medical conditions might have special vaccine needs. Work with your doctor to choose the best vaccination strategy for your family.

For more information, visit Who Should Not be Vaccinated with These Vaccines?

What are Possible Side Effects of 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. Side effects are different for every vaccine. These pages explain common side effects for each vaccine:

Remember: the decision to not vaccinate a child also involves risk. Not vaccinating could put the child and others who come into contact with him or her at risk for potentially deadly diseases.

What should I do if my child has a reaction to a vaccine?

Most children do not have side effects from vaccines, or only have mild side effects. If your child does have a reaction, follow these three steps immediately:

  1. Call or see a doctor. If the reaction is severe, take your child to a doctor right away.
  2. Give details. Tell your doctor what happened, when it happened, and when the vaccination was given. By providing these details, you assist your doctor in judging whether the vaccine caused the reaction and why your child reacted.
  3. Mention VAERS. Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to submit a VAERS report. You can also submit a VAERS report yourself. Reports to VAERS help CDC monitor the safety of vaccines.