Baby Cough After Vaccines: Allergic Reaction or Normal?

11 post-shot symptoms that signal a call to your doc

Person's hand examining fever of a boy
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It's always wise to monitor your little one after shots; for example, you may notice a baby cough after vaccines or a slight fever or irritability. But how do you tell what's a normal reaction to the vaccination and what warrants a call to the pediatrician?

Normal Side Effects of Infant Vaccines

Of course, all kids are different and side effects depend on the type of vaccination. In general, however, most reactions are not serious and will most often subside within a day or two.

These include:

  • Tenderness, redness, swelling where shot was given
  • Slight fever
  • General irritability

Most physicians recommend giving your infant Tylenol (or other acetaminophen-based pain reliever/fever reducer) before the shot is administered to ease these discomforts. Breast- or bottle-feeding after the vaccination has also been found to minimize crying and vaccination pain in infants.

Signs of a Serious Allergic Reaction to Shots

Though rare, serious reactions are possible. A choking cough and persistent crying, for example, could be caused by an allergic reaction that is causing your infant's throat to swell. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should note any unusual conditions along with high fevers or behavioral changes.

Here are a few other symptoms that warrant an immediate call to your pediatrician.

  • Constant crying
  • Persistent coughing
  • High fever
  • Behavior changes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hoarseness or wheezing
  • Hives
  • Paleness
  • Weakness
  • Fast heart beat or dizziness
  • Swelling of the throat

When Not to Get Vaccinated

For most infants, immunization is safe and just a standard part of ongoing care. Some children, however, should skip the shots, including:

  • An infant with a mild cold or illness. Depending on the severity of your infant's illness, the pediatric may postpone the shot until the child is healthy and germ-free.
  • An infant who has had a severe or life-threatening reaction to a vaccine. If this is the case, talk with your pediatrician about the best immunization schedule of your child.
  • An infant with a severe or life-threatening allergy to one of the substances within the vaccine; for example, most types of flu vaccine contain a small amount of egg protein.

Where to Go From Here

Do you still have questions about your baby's routine shots? Now that you are familiar with some of the common and serious side effects, you might also find these articles helpful.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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