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Before You Vaccinate Your Child


Doctor giving injection to baby boy (2-5 months).
Science Photo Library/Ian Hooton/Getty Images

Even those who feel most strongly that vaccines are safe and necessary allow that in some circumstances they should be withheld or considered more carefully. Parents of children with special needs must be particularly aware of possible contraindications and forthright in discussing them with doctors. The information below, adapted from charts on the Centers for Disease Control site, suggest some conditions that merit caution.

Does your child have allergies?

If he or she has severe reactions to the following substances, it may be necessary to skip the vaccinations indicated or administer them in a different way:

• Alum — Hepatitis A
• Baker's yeast — Hepatitis B
• Eggs — Flu
• Gelatin — MMR, Chickenpox (Varicella)
• Latex — Any vaccine in a vial or syringe with natural rubber
• Neomycin — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR, Polio
• Polymyxin B — Polio
• Streptomycin — Polio
• Other substances — check these lists of ingredients


    Does your child have a medical condition?

    If he or she has one of the following medical conditions, it may be necessary to skip the indicated vaccination or administer the vaccine in a different way:

    • Asthma — Flu (intranasal spray)
    • Cancer — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR
    • Blood disorders — All vaccines
    • HIV/AIDS — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR
    • Kidney disorders — Flu (intranasal spray)
    • Low platelet count — MMR
    • Immunosuppression — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR
    • Tuberculosis/positive PPD — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR


      Does your child have a neurological disorder?

      If he or she has one of the following neurological conditions, it may be necessary to skip the indicated vaccination or administer it with caution:

      • Cerebral palsy — Diphtheria Tetanus & Pertussis (DTaP)
      • Developmental delays — Diphtheria Tetanus & Pertussis (DTaP)
      • Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) — Diphtheria Tetanus & Pertussis (DTaP), Flu (shot and spray)
      • Seizure disorders (including family history) — Diphtheria Tetanus & Pertussis (DTaP)


        Is your child undergoing any medical procedures?

        If he or she is currently undergoing or has recently completed one of the following, it may be necessary to delay or avoid certain vaccines:

        • Blood transfusion — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR
        • Chemotherapy — All vaccines
        • Immunosuppressive therapy — All vaccines
        • Radiation therapy — All vaccines
        • Stem-cell transplant — All vaccines


          Is your child on medication?

          These medications may interfere with vaccines or create conditions that could make the vaccines harmful:

          • Antibiotics — Chickenpox (Varicella), Flu (intranasal spray)
          • Long-term aspirin treatment — Flu (intranasal spray)
          • Steroids — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR


            Is your child sick right now?

            If your child is moderately to severely ill, with or without a fever, your doctor may advise you to wait until he or she is recovering to vaccinate.


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