If You Vaccinate, Ask 8!

What You Need to Know Before & After Vaccination

Under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, nearly $4.5 billion has been awarded to children and adults for whom the risks of vaccine injury were 100%.  Vaccines are pharmaceutical products that carry risks, which can be greater for some than others. NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about the risks and complications of diseases and vaccines and speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision.

1.  Am I or my child sick right now? Getting vaccinated while sick could increase risks for a vaccine reaction or lower vaccine effectiveness.
2.  Have I or my child had a bad reaction to a vaccination before? Getting re-vaccinated after a previous vaccine reaction could cause a more serious reaction, injury or death.
3.  Do I or my child have a personal or family history of vaccine reactions, neurological disorders, severe allergies or immune system problems? Always review your personal and family medical history when evaluating vaccine benefits and risks.
4.  Do I know the disease and vaccine risks for myself or my child? Learn about disease and vaccine risks that could be greater for you or your child.
5.  Do I have full information about the vaccine’s side effects? Before you take a risk, find out what it is for each vaccine you or your child will receive.
6.  Do I know how to identify and report a vaccine reaction? Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and where and how to report them.
7.  Do I know I need to keep a written record, including the vaccine manufacturer’s name and lot number, for all vaccinations? The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 requires all vaccine providers to record information about vaccines given to you or your child.
8.  Do I know I have the right to make an informed choice? Informed consent to medical risk taking, including vaccine risk taking, is a human right.


If you answered yes to questions 1, 2, and 3, or no to questions 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 and do not understand the significance of your answer, you may want to explore information on NVIC's website to better understand the importance of your answer. These questions are designed to educate consumers about the importance of making fully informed vaccine decisions.  Click here to learn more about the role of informed consent in vaccination.

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If you choose to vaccinate, always keep a written record of exactly which shots/vaccines you or your child have received, including the manufacturer’s name and vaccine lot number. Write down and describe in detail any serious health problems that develop after vaccination and keep vaccination records in a file you can access easily.

Recognizing Vaccine Reaction Symptoms

If you or your child experiences any of the symptoms listed below in the hours, days or weeks following vaccination, it should be reported to VAERS.  Some vaccine reaction symptoms include:

  • Pronounced swelling, redness, heat, or hardness at injection site;

  • Body rash or hives;

  • Wheezing/difficulty breathing (including asthma)

  • Sudden unusually fast or irregular heartbeat;

  • Severe pain in the head, chest, joints, or muscles;

  • Shock/collapse followed by unresponsiveness, deep sleep;

  • High-pitched screaming or hours of persistent crying;

  • Changes in sleep/wake pattern; dramatic personality changes;

  • High fever (over 103 F);

  • Twitching or jerking of the body, arm, leg, or head;

  • Weakness/paralysis of any part of the body;

  • Crossing of eyes; loss of eye contact, awareness, memory, or speech;

  • Loss of ability to roll over, sit up or stand up;

  • Loss of taste or smell;

  • Disabling fatigue;

  • Onset of chronic ear or respiratory infections;

  • Severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea;

  • Excessive bruising, bleeding, or anemia;

There are other symptoms, which may indicate that you or your child has suffered a vaccine reaction. Not all symptoms that occur following vaccination are caused by the vaccine(s) recently received, but it cannot be automatically concluded that symptoms which do occur are NOT related to the vaccine. Therefore, it is important for your doctor to write down all serious health problems that occur after vaccination in the permanent medical record and to report ALL serious symptoms or dramatic change in physical, mental or emotional behavior that does occur following vaccination to VAERS.  It is also important that re-vaccination does not continue until it has been determined that the serious health problem which developed after vaccination was not causally related to the vaccination(s). Continued vaccination in the presence of serious health deterioration could lead to vaccine injury or death.

Reporting Vaccine Reactions

Although it has been the law since 1986 for doctors and other vaccine providers to report hospitalizations, injuries, deaths and serious health problems following vaccination to VAERS, it is estimated that less than 10 percent, perhaps less than one percent of all vaccine-related health problems are ever reported. If your doctor will not report a serious health problem that you or child experienced after vaccination to VAERS, you have the right to make the vaccine adverse event report to VAERS yourself. 

Since its’ founding in 1982, the National Vaccine Information Center has operated a Vaccine Reaction Registry which has served as a watchdog on the VAERS system. It is important to be able to recognize an adverse reaction and seek appropriate medical attention, as well as reporting  a vaccine adverse event with federal health officials at the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), who monitor vaccines after they have been licensed. Information provided to VAERS, may also help identify high risk factors that make some individuals more vulnerable to suffering vaccine reactions.

We encourage you to also report any suspected vaccine reaction you or your child has experienced to NVIC’s Vaccine Reaction Registry.  By filing a report with NVIC we are able to provide resource referral and counseling so that you can get the answers to any questions you may have about vaccines.

More Resources for YOU!

NVIC also publishes a free online NVIC Vaccine eNewsletter to keep consumers informed of the latest information about vaccines and infectious diseases and offers tools like NVIC's Advocacy Portal, free downloadable information in the Ask 8 Information Kiosk, and our Diseases and Vaccines and Know the Risks web pages, which provide information on risks and benefits associated with vaccines. You can also find answers to frequently asked question in our FAQ section.

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