Side effects of vaccines available in Australia

Vaccine Common side effects
(Between 1 and 10 in every 100 people may experience these)
Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine for tuberculosis (TB)
  • An ulcer at the injection site (2 to 6 weeks after the vaccination)
  • Swollen glands
Chickenpox (varicella zoster)
  • Soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • A lump at the injection site; this generally disappears after a few weeks and does not need treatment
  • Fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • A mild rash at the injection site 5 to 26 days after vaccination, and sometimes on other parts of the body
Cholera
  • Mild stomach and gut (gastrointestinal) problems
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
Combined diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis)
  • Fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • Redness, swelling and tenderness at the injection site
  • A lump at the injection site; this generally disappears after a few weeks and does not need treatment
  • Children may cry and feel generally unwell (malaise)
  • Tiredness or drowsiness
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Pain, redness, and swelling at injection site (injection site reactions become milder with subsequent doses)
  • Fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • Irritability, crying
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
Hepatitis A
  • Redness, swelling and pain at the injection site
  • Fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Feeling generally unwell (malaise)
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
Hepatitis B
  • Redness, swelling and pain at the injection site
  • Fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • A lump at the injection site; this generally disappears after a few weeks and does not need treatment
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Soreness, redness and swelling at injection site
  • Fever (a temperature 38.5°C or higher)
  • Mild headache
  • Mild nausea
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Tiredness
Influenza (flu)
  • Fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • Muscle tenderness or weakness (myalgia)
  • Soreness, redness and swelling at injection site
  • A lump at the injection site; this generally disappears after a few weeks and does not need treatment

These side effects may last 1 to 2 days after the vaccination. Side effects may be more severe in children who are younger than 5 years old (compared with older children and adults).

Japanese encephalitis
  • Soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • Fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • Muscle aches (myalgia)
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • A lump at the injection site; this generally disappears after a few weeks and does not need treatment
  • Fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher) that lasts 2 to 3 days
  • Headache
  • Swollen glands
  • Faint red rash (not infectious)
  • Tiredness
  • Joint pain
  • Sore throat
  • Cold-like symptoms including a runny nose, cough and puffy eyes
Meningococcal C
(Conjugate vaccines)
  • Children may cry and be irritable or generally unhappy
  • Fever (i.e. a temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • Soreness, pain and redness at injection site
  • A lump at the injection site; this generally disappears after a few weeks and does not need treatment
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache (usually in teenagers or adults)
Pneumococcal
(Polysaccharide and conjugate vaccines)
  • Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • A lump at the injection site; this generally disappears after a few weeks and does not need treatment
  • Fever (i.e. a temperature 38.5°C or higher)
Polio
  • Fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • Redness, swelling and tenderness at injection site
  • A lump at the injection site; this generally disappears after a few weeks and does not need treatment
  • Muscle aches
Q fever
  • Headache
Rabies
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling generally unwell (malaise)
  • Muscle pain(myalgia)
  • Nausea
Rotavirus
  • Children may cry and be irritable or generally unhappy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea (for up to 1 week after vaccination)
Shingles (herpes zoster)
  • Headache
  • Pain, swelling or itching at the injection site
Tetanus
  • Fever (i.e. a temperature 38.5°C or higher)
  • Redness, swelling and tenderness at injection site
  • A lump at the injection site; this generally disappears after a few weeks and does not need treatment
  • Feeling generally unwell (malaise)
  • Tiredness or drowsiness
Typhoid

Common side effects of the oral typhoid vaccines include:

  • Stomach discomfort
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rashes

Common side effects of injected vaccines include:

  • Feeling generally unwell (malaise)
  • Fever (i.e. a temperature 38.5°C or higher)
  • Nausea
Whooping cough (pertussis)
  • Child may cry more than usual and be irritable
  • Drowsiness
  • Restlessness
  • Painful, red swelling on the arm or thigh that usually disappear without treatment within 2 to 7 days
Yellow fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain (myalgia)
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weakness

Who can I ask about side effects?

If you’re concerned that you or your child may have had side effects related to a vaccine, seek medical advice. To report and discuss possible side effects, call the Adverse Medicines Events (AME) Line on 1300 134 237 from anywhere in Australia (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm AEST).

References
  1. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. National Health and Medical Research Council. Adverse events following immunisation. In: The Australian Immunisation Handbook, 9th edn. www.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/Handbook-quickguides-adverse
  2. Rossi S, ed. eAMH [online]. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook, July 2012.