What to expect after immunisation: Babies and children up to 5 years

This information tells you about the common side effects of immunisations that might occur in babies and young children up to 5 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're worried.

After immunisations given to children under 5 years of age

The most common side effects are at the site where the injection was given. These include:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • tenderness

These symptoms usually pass within a couple of days and you don’t need to do anything about them. Sometimes your child may develop a fever. If you're still not happy with your baby’s reaction to any immunisation, speak to your practice nurse or GP.

How to treat a fever in children

Comforting your baby

It's normal for your baby to be upset for up to 48 hours after having the injection. To help comfort your baby, you can:

  • give them a cuddle
  • offer them extra cool drinks (if you're breastfeeding, your child may feed more often)
  • take them for a walk in the fresh air

If the injection site is red, swollen or tender, put a clean cold cloth to the area for about 5 to 10 minutes – this may help to soothe your baby.

After the MMR vaccination

MMR is made up of 3 different vaccines (measles, mumps and rubella) which can cause reactions at different times after the injection.

Side effects after 6 to 10 days

After 6 to 10 days the measles vaccine starts to work and may cause a:

  • fever
  • measles-like rash
  • loss of appetite

Side effects at 2 to 3 weeks

At around 2 to 3 weeks after the injection the mumps vaccine may cause mumps-like symptoms (fever and swollen glands) in some children.

Side effects at 12 to 14 days

Most commonly around 12 to 14 days after the injection, the rubella vaccine may cause a brief rash and a slightly raised temperature. On rare occasions, a rash may also occur up to 6 weeks later.

Where can I report suspected side effects?

You can report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card Scheme.

This can be done by:

  • visiting the Yellow Card Scheme website
  • phoning the free Yellow Card hotline on 0800 731 6789 (available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Vaccine Safety Net Member

Public Health Scotland is a proud member of the Vaccine Safety Net and partners with NHS inform to provide reliable information on vaccine safety.

The Vaccine Safety Net is a global network of websites, evaluated by the World Health Organization, that provides reliable information on vaccine safety.

More about the Vaccine Safety Net

Further information and other languages and formats

More information on vaccines for babies and young children can be found in these leaflets, available in multiple languages and formats:

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Last updated:
26 January 2023

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