The doctors at Reydon Street Medical Centre get regular questions from parents asking if their baby can still have their vaccinations when they have a cold or are on antibiotics.
The human body is an amazing thing and protects us from many infectious challenges on a daily basis. The immune system can cope with a minor illness and a vaccination at the same time.
The overall message is children who are slightly unwell can still receive their vaccination.
The Australian Handbook of Immunisation advises us children can be vaccinated where they “have minor illnesses (without acute systemic symptoms/signs)”.
This means your baby can still have their vaccinations if:
- they have a minor illness without a high temperature – such as a
- cold, runny nose, or cough
- ear infection (otitis media)
- mild diarrhoea
- they have allergies, asthma, eczema or food intolerances (however it is important to inform the doctor giving the immunisation about these).
- they were born prematurely
If your child has a fever over 38.5 Celsius on the day, they should not be immunised.
It is important to stick to the recommended immunisation schedule as closely as possible and have vaccinations on time.
Babies and young children seem like “they are always ill”, and if we wait until they are completely well and symptom free it may leave them vulnerable to serious or harmful infections. Delaying vaccinations may be worse for the child.
It will usually be better to keep attend an appointment to have the vaccinations and let the doctor or nurse assess the child rather than delay unnecessarily.
Where a child is in the first or two day of an illness and is becoming more unwell it may be reasonable to wait for another day or two to see how the illness progresses. This may avoid any confusion if the child becomes more unwell after the immunisation.
However, if after 2-3 days the child only has minor symptoms or is recovering, parents would be advised to attend an appointment for the immunisation as soon as practicable. The doctor or nurse would assess the child as usual before proceeding to give the immunisation.
Children taking antibiotics can get vaccines
Antibiotics do not affect how a child’s body responds to vaccines. Children taking antibiotics for a mild illness should not delay vaccines.