Vaccines and Kids with Special Needs
Every parent wants to make the best choice to keep their child healthy, but understanding what that choice is may not be entirely clear. Parents of children with special health care needs have to consider so many things when deciding whether or not to vaccinate their child. Most kids, even those with special needs, can receive all of the recommended vaccinations, but there are some questions to ask yourself and your doctor before taking your child in for their shots:
Does your child have allergies?
Some children have allergies to particular vaccine ingredients. If your child has severe reactions to any of the substances found in vaccines, you might need to postpone, skip or administer that vaccine in a different way. Below are some of the more well-known ingredients that children have allergies to. If your child has an allergy to any of the following substances, be sure to talk to your doctor about giving the associated vaccine.
- Baker's yeast — Hepatitis B
- Eggs — Flu
- Gelatin — MMR, Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Latex — Any vaccine in a vial or syringe with natural rubber
- Certain antibiotics — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR, Polio
Remember that mild reactions such as redness around the injection site and mild fever are common side effects of immunizations, but if your child has a severe reaction like a seizure, you should always talk to his or her doctor before their next shot.
Does your child have a medical condition or neurological disorder?
Most children, even those with severe medical conditions, can be fully vaccinated, but it is always important to talk to your child’s doctor about which vaccines may need to be postponed or given in a different way. If your child has any of the following medical conditions, talk to his or her doctor about the risks and benefits of giving the listed vaccine.
- Asthma — Flu (intranasal spray)
- Blood disorders — All vaccines
- HIV/AIDS or Immunosuppression — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR, Flu (intranasal spray), Rotavirus
- Heart conditions — Flu (intranasal spray)
- Cerebral palsy — Diphtheria Tetanus & Pertussis (DTaP)
- Developmental delays — Diphtheria Tetanus & Pertussis (DTaP)
- Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) — Diphtheria Tetanus & Pertussis (DTaP), Flu (shot and spray), MCV
- Seizure disorders (including family history) — Diphtheria Tetanus & Pertussis (DTaP)
Is your child undergoing any medical procedures?
If he or she is currently undergoing or has recently completed one of the following, it may be necessary to delay or avoid certain vaccines:
- Blood transfusion — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR
- Chemotherapy — All vaccines
- Immunosuppressive therapy — All vaccines
- Radiation therapy — All vaccines
- Stem-cell transplant — All vaccines
Is your child on medication?
Certain medications may interfere with the way your child’s vaccine work or may increase the risk for side effects after vaccination. If your child is on any of these medications, be sure to talk to his or her doctor.
- Antibiotics — Chickenpox (Varicella), Flu (intranasal spray)
- Long-term aspirin treatment — Flu (intranasal spray)
- Steroids — Chickenpox (Varicella), MMR
The CDC is the best source for information about immunizations for children with special health care needs. For more information, click here.
If you are concerned about your child’s care, talk with your healthcare provider.