Giving Tylenol before Vaccine Reduces Immunization Effectiveness
Tylenol has become the go-to drug for virtually everything, particularly since an apparent link between aspirin and Reye’s Syndrome was first discovered in the 1980′s. It’s commonly recommended that babies be given Tylenol even before heading to their vaccination appointment to prevent the onset of fever.
The problem with this conventional way of thinking is that giving your child the medication beforehand could interfere with the effectiveness of the vaccine along with the antibodies the vaccination is supposed to create in the body.
Common Reactions After Vaccination
The most common reactions following a vaccine include:
- Localized swelling, redness, and pain at the injection site within 24 hours of the injection. Typically lasts 2 to 3 days, but up to 7 days with DTaP vaccine;
- Low grade fever which begins within 24 hours of the injection and can last 1 or 2 days;
- Fever and other systemic reactions 1 to 4 weeks after injection are common with the MMR, chickenpox, and other live vaccines.
Other vaccination-specific reactions can be found here by scrolling down to “Specific Immunization Reactions”.
Remember that all these reactions mean that the vaccine is doing its job. It means that your child’s immune system is creating the antibodies it needs to be protected from the actual disease. Other symptoms may include fussiness, irritability, increased sleepiness, decreased appetite and activity level.
When to Call the Doctor
If your child experiences any of the following symptoms after a vaccine, you need to call your doctor:
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Very weak or decreased ability to move
- Unresponsive to your voice or difficult to waken
- Under 12 weeks of age with a fever over 100.4 F ; Fever over 104F and no improvement 2 hours after fever reducer administered
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light
- Febrile seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes
- High-pitched, usual crying for over 1 hour, or continuous crying for over 3 hours
- Redness or red streaking around the injection site in the 48 hours following the shot, especially if the redness or streaking is larger than 1 inch
- If the fever lasts longer than 3 days or returns after being gone for over 24 hours
- Measles vaccine rash appears between days 6 to 12 after the vaccination and persists for more than 3 days
Why not to use Tylenol with a Fever
A fever after a vaccine is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s actually a sign the vaccine is working. The study results published in Lancet showed that babies who were given Tylenol before the vaccine in an effort to prevent a vaccine-related fever also experienced lower rates of protective antibody levels. Ten other vaccine studies showed that administering Tylenol at the time of the vaccine actually curbs the body’s natural immune system response. (The research doesn’t indicated whether the rates were affected in babies who were given Tylenol after the onset of the fever or whether using other painkillers – eg. ibuprofen – also affects immunity.)
The results of these studies has prompted many pediatricians to advise against giving acetaminophen prior to a vaccination. If your child develops a fever:
- Let them sleep
- Make sure they are dressed lightly, but make sure they don’t get too cold either
- Make sure they drink lots of clear fluids
- For children under 6 months of age, give them extra cooled pre-boiled water, breast milk, or formula
The goal should not be to reduce the child’s temperature back to normal, but to reduce their discomfort. The fever is needed to help the body create antibodies.
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for Empowher.com
Sources: Treating Side Effects After Immunizations. WhattoExpect.com. Web. July 21, 2012. http://www.whattoexpect.com/child-vaccinations/treating-side-effects.aspx
Should your Child See a Doctor? Immunization Reactions. Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation. Web. July 21, 2012. http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/symptom-index/immunization-reactions/
What should I do if my child has a fever after a vaccination? Australian Government Department of Health and Aging. Web. July 21, 2012. www.nps.org.au/medicines/vaccines_immunisation/side_effects_and_safety/what_should_i_do_after_my_childs_vaccination
Giving babies Tylenol may blunt vaccine effects. Associated Press via NBC News. Web. July 21, 2012. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33331643/ns/health-childrens_health/t/giving-babies-tylenol-may-blunt-vaccine-effects/#.UAsDiPWbxns
Related Links: Vaccinations: Do They Support or Harm the Health of Our Children. Jones, Dr. Daemon. http://www.empowher.com/autism/content/vaccinations-do-they-support-or-harm-health-our-children
Reconsidering vaccinations. Mills, Kristin. http://www.empowher.com/community/share/reconsidering-vaccinations
Helpful Information on Causes and Treatments for Arm and Shoulder Pain After Vaccinations. Elliott, Pat. http://www.empowher.com/community/share/helpful-information-causes-and-treatments-arm-and-shoulder-pain-after-vaccinations