Are combination vaccines safe?

A: Yes. All medicines, including vaccines, undergo strict safety checks and are tested for potential side effects. They are only made available in Australia if they have been shown to have acceptable side effects. The safety of vaccines is also continually monitored when they are available, and will be withdrawn from use if any safety issues are identified.

A combination vaccine contains two or more vaccines in one injection.

Combination vaccines — such as the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine — have no more side effects than the individual vaccines given separately. They are also just as effective at protecting your child from diseases as the individual vaccines.

The obvious advantage of combination vaccines is that they reduce the number of injections your child has to have, as well as the number of visits required to the doctor or other immunisation provider.

Some parents worry that having several vaccines in a combination could overwhelm or weaken their child’s immune system. But children come across many viruses and bacteria every day through their normal playing, eating and drinking. Their immune systems are designed to cope with these exposures.

Compared to these day-to-day challenges, combination vaccines contain only a small number of antigens. An antigen is something that causes your immune system to make an ‘antibody’ that fights it. So even if your child has several vaccines in a combination, their immune systems will not be overwhelmed or ‘used up’.