What to expect after immunisation - Teenagers

This information tells you about the common side effects of immunisations that might occur in young people from 12-18 years of age.

This information is to be used as a guide only. You should always seek advice from your GP or Health Visitor if you are worried.

Most common side effects are at the site where the injection was given:

  • swelling
  • redness
  • tenderness
  • a small hard lump.

These symptoms usually pass within a couple of days and you don’t need to do anything about them. If, after having read this leaflet, you are still not happy with your reaction to any immunisation, speak to your practice nursibue or GP.

Other mild side effects:

From HPV immunisation:

  • slightly raised temperature
  • sickness
  • diarrhoea
  • itching
  • rash
  • joint pain.

From Td/IPV immunisation:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • feeling sick
  • swollen glands
  • fever.

From MMR immunisation:

MMR is made up of three different vaccines (measles, mumps and rubella) which can cause reactions at different times after the injection.

Side effects of MMR may include:

  • After 6-10 days the measles vaccine starts to work and may cause a fever, a measles-like rash and a loss of appetite.
  • Around 2-3 weeks after the injection the mumps vaccine may cause mumps-like symptoms (fever and swollen glands) in some children.
  • Most commonly around 12-14 days after the injection the rubella vaccine may cause a brief rash and possibility a slightly raised temperature, and on rare occasions a rash may also occur up to six weeks later.

How to treat a fever

A fever is a temperature over 37.5oC. If your face feels hot to the touch and looks red or flushed, you may have a fever. You can check your temperature with a thermometer.

Keep yourself cool by:

  • making sure you don’t have too many layers of clothes or blankets on, and
  • have plenty of cool drinks.

If you feel unwell after the immunisation, take paracetamol. Read the instructions on the bottle carefully and take the correct dose for your age. If necessary, take a second dose four to six hours later. If your temperature is still high after the second dose, speak to your GP or call NHS 24 on 111 (freephone).

Remember, never take medicines that contain aspirin if you are under 16.

If you are worried, trust your instincts. Speak to your doctor or call NHS 24 on 111 (freephone). Call the doctor immediately if, at any time, your temperature is 39-40oC or above, or you have a fit.

If the surgery is closed and you can’t contact your doctor, trust your instincts and go to the nearest hospital with an emergency department.

Checking on vaccine safety

Before vaccines are introduced, they have to be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which assesses their safety and efficacy. Once vaccines have been introduced into the immunisation programme, their safety continues to be monitored so that any reported side effects are quickly investigated.

If you would like more information on the safety of vaccines visit www.mhra.gov.uk

Yellow Card Scheme

You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card Scheme. This can be done on-line by visiting www.yellowcard.gov.uk or by calling the Yellow Card hotline on 0808 100 3352 (available Monday to Friday – 10 am to 2 pm).

More information

More information on the side effects of vaccines and immunisation can be found in the leaflets A guide to immunisations for teenagers 12 to 18 years of age and What to expect after immunisation: young people on www.immunisationscotland.org.uk

Last reviewed on 30 October 2015

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