Baby's first immunization

You can help your child have a positive vaccination experience. Understanding what will happen when your child is vaccinated can make it easier on both of you.

On this page

Before the vaccination

If your child has a cold or fever when it is time for his or her vaccination, talk to your doctor or nurse. They can assess whether it is okay to vaccinate or if you should wait until your child has recovered.

During the vaccination

Your health care provider may ask you questions about your child's health, such as if they have allergies or health problems.

There are several things you can do to help your child during the vaccination.

  • Relax. Your child may react to your emotions. When you relax and stay positive, your child will be happier too.
  • Cuddle. Hold and talk to your child during the vaccination. Studies have found that children who are held while getting a needle cry less.
  • Breastfeed. If you are breastfeeding, try nursing your baby right before, during or after the needle. This will be comforting to your baby.
  • Distract. Your gentle, soothing voice or touch can help comfort your baby. So can a favourite toy, telling a story or singing.

After the vaccination

Most children are fine after vaccination. Your child may have no reaction at all to the vaccine. But in some cases, your child may:

  • be fussy,
  • be sleepier than usual,
  • have a low fever or
  • have a sore, swollen, or red spot where the needle went in.

These reactions are normal and usually last between 12 and 24 hours. You can give your child medicine to help with the pain or lower the fever. Ask your health care provider what medicine is best.

Before you go home

Make an appointment for your child's next vaccination.

You will be asked to wait at the clinic for 15 to 20 minutes after your child's vaccination. This is because, as with any medicine, there is a very slight chance of a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

Signs of a serious allergic reaction include:

  • breathing problems (wheezing),
  • swelling of the face, and/or
  • blotchy skin on the body (hives).

If you see any of these symptoms, talk to a health care provider immediately. They know what to do to counter the allergic reaction.

When to call your health care provider

Serious reactions to vaccines are very rare. Call your health care provider or public health office (CLSC in Quebec) if your child has unusual symptoms after vaccination.

Unusual symptoms may include:

  • a fever above 40°C (104°F),
  • crying or fussing for more than 24 hours,
  • worsening swelling where the needle went in or
  • unusual sleepiness.

You know yourchild best. If you notice anything that is not normal after a vaccination, check with your healthcare provider.

Remember, vaccination is part of your children's routine care. Keeping vaccinations up-to-date is important to protect their health.

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