Ask Dr. Sears: Sick Child on Day of Vaccines

Ask Dr. Sears: Sick Child on Day of Vaccines 1Please welcome Dr. Bob Sears back to Metropolitan Mama.

Sears is a nationally known pediatrician, father of three, and author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. Sears has graciously offered to extend his expertise about vaccines through a bi-monthly column where YOU ask the questions...and he answers them. See the bottom of this post for details about how you can submit a question.

If you want more information now, you should really just buy his book (read my review here). It's comprehensive, objective, and the only one of its kind on the market.

QUESTION: My child is sick (has a cold/a stuffy nose/the flu) and is scheduled to have his/her shots today. Should we proceed with the vaccinations or wait until he/she is healthier?

ANSWER FROM DR. SEARS: It’s inevitable. The day before your baby’s check up her nose starts to run. Or she’s just coming off antibiotics from an ear infection a few days before her next check up and shots. What do you do? Some people worry that vaccines may temporarily lower a child’s immune system, thus making any present illness potentially worse. Although this hasn’t been proven in research studies, it theoretically makes sense. As the immune system is working on the vaccines, other parts of the immune system may be “distracted” or may not work at full capacity. So vaccinating may make a mild illness worse. Another complicating factor is that if the shots make your baby fussy and feverish for a couple days, you won’t be able to tell whether it’s her illness that’s worsening or it’s just a reaction to the vaccines. Finally, it may be possible that vaccine reactions may be more likely if a child is already fighting an illness. This issue hasn't actually been researched, but it is a theoretical worry.

If you delay your baby’s shots and come back a few weeks later to get the shots when she’s totally well, there goes another co-pay, another morning off work, and another drive to the doctor's office! The reality is some kids are sick more often than they are well. If we waited for every child to be completely illness-free, some kids would never get vaccinated. In general, if an illness is minor enough to allow a child into school or daycare and doesn’t require antibiotics, then it’s probably OK to give the shots. If a child is sick enough to need antibiotics or to stay home from school or daycare, or is fussy and not sleeping or eating well, then shots should be put off until another day.

Extra cautious patients who don't mind returning another day when baby is at peak health should feel perfectly justified to do so. Even better, cancel your current checkup and simply delay it until your baby is well again.

If you have a question about vaccines for Dr. Sears, send an e-mail with "Ask Dr. Sears" in the subject line to [email protected].

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9 comments on “Ask Dr. Sears: Sick Child on Day of Vaccines”

  1. Hi, my 16 is due for her immunizations but now she has a stuffy nose (cold). Do I need to reschedule her appointment?

  2. My son is 1yr10months he is suffering from fever cold and cough from 3days.can i have him measeals and rubella vaccine rply me plz.

  3. my baby is 2 months and 5 days old still hasn't been able to get his shots because of congestion and coughing, now I feel like he's getting a fever.

  4. My 8 month old son has croup and we had taken him to the hospital where he was given epinephrine and dexamethasone to open his airways. 2 days later we took him to see the pediatrician and they said it was fine to give him 2 vaccinations even though he was sick and had been given those medications days prior. Is this safe?! He appears to be doing well and it has been 24 hours.

  5. my child has recurrent thrush and was on nystatin and now prescribed fluconazole for 14 days, 4 ml a day. Can she still get her vaccination of polio and heb B while taking this anitfungal? Please help

  6. Hi Dr.Sears ,

    My daughter is 1 years old , she woke up the day of her MMR shot and chicken pop shot with a runny nose and sneezing only as she is teething ,every time a tooth comes out this happens . No fever ,nor coughing just runny nose .

    She was active and behaving as usual , so i decíded to go on with her scheduele shots .

    Is it okay ? will the shots have the same effect on her if she was healthy no runny nose or is it the same it is a shot?

    I mean will she benifit from the vaccine even if she had a runny nose ? i feel guilty that i gave her the shots to her the Dr. said it is okay i would like your point of view ? please Dr.Sears


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