Description

The risk of catching many diseases is very high in the first year of a child's life. That’s why it is recommended that you get children vaccinated according to the immunization schedule. In respecting this schedule, you ensure that your child is protected at the time they need to be most. Even if you dislike the idea of giving your child an injection by getting them vaccinated, you are protecting them from catching diseases that can leave after-effects.

For further information on immunization in general and how to get your child vaccinated, see the Vaccination file.

Risks associated with not vaccinating your child

Children not vaccinated are more likely than anyone else to catch a contagious disease. Such risk is present even in countries where the vast majority of people are vaccinated. For example, data in the United States shows that children not vaccinated are:

  • 22 to 35 times more likely to have measles than children vaccinated
  • 6 times more likely to have whooping cough than children vaccinated

Also, children who are not vaccinated can spread contagious diseases to others. 

Benefits of multiple injections

Depending on their age, your child is likely to receive more than one vaccine in a single visit. Vaccines administered at the same time are called “multiple injections”. Only vaccines that are safe and effective when given together can be administered at the same time. This practice has several benefits, including:

  • Vaccines given together protect against diseases just as effectively as when administered separately
  • Children are protected earlier against a larger number of diseases
  • Parents save time and avoid travel and costs related to repeated appointments
  • The child experiences less vaccine-related stress because the multiple injections reduce the number of vaccination appointments. In fact, it is proven that a child in pain after a recent immunization session is likely to be more anxious at the following session
  • Symptoms that may occur after a vaccine are felt only once instead of being experienced several times

Safety of multiple injections

Scientific studies have shown that children risk nothing in receiving several vaccines in a single immunization session. This practice is safe and applied worldwide.

Vaccines are just a small fraction of all substances to which a child is exposed daily. Every day, their immune system is exposed to thousands of microbes. The immune system’s ability to react would require 1000 times more strength than what is necessary to respond to vaccines. There is therefore no limit to the number of vaccines a child can receive at the same time.

Moreover, administering several vaccines at the same time does not increase the frequency, intensity or severity of symptoms. Symptoms are the same as when the vaccines are administered on different visits.

Also, treatment of the child’s discomfort is the same whether they’ve received one or several vaccines.

When possible, children preferably receive a combined vaccine, which is a single-injection vaccine that fights several diseases. For example, the DTaP/IPV/Hib Vaccine protects your child against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio and Hæmophilus influenzae type b infections. Giving a combined vaccine to protect against these diseases both decreases the number of injections and the child’s discomfort.

There is continued research to find other effective and safe methods for administering vaccines, including oral vaccines given through the mouth or nasal vaccines sprayed into the nose. The objective lies in protecting children and not making them suffer needlessly.

Preparing children for vaccination

You can prepare your child for vaccination, especially if they are of an age to understand.

There are several ways to reduce the pain and anxiety of vaccination. See the Reducing the Pain and Anxiety of Vaccination in Children page and discuss them with the person administering the vaccines during your appointment. 

Managing post-vaccination symptoms in the context of COVID-19

Some of the vaccines prescribed in the immunization schedule for children may cause side effects, such as fever and discomfort. These reactions are often mild and easy to treat and relieve.

Post-vaccination symptoms can be mistaken for COVID-19 symptoms, that is:

  • fever;
  • loss of appetite;
  • fatigue;
  • vomiting;
  • diarrhea;
  • nausea;
  • muscle pain.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, here are instructions to follow if these symptoms appear:

Symptoms appearing within 24 hours of vaccination

Children aged from 6 months to 5 years

Children aged from 6 months to 5 years displaying one or more of these symptoms within 24 hours of vaccination must:

  • stay home for an observation period of 24 hours;
  • avoid contact with other people.

Monitor the course of the symptoms. If the symptoms lessen or disappear, these children may resume their regular activities if their health condition allows. During the observation period, the people living with the child and who have had contact with the child may pursue their regular activities while taking into account public health measures.

If the symptoms are still present after the 24-hour observation period, refer to the COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool This hyperlink will open in a new window. or call 1-877-644-4545 to discover the procedure to follow. You could also talk to a health professional to find out whether the child must undergo a screening test or may resume their regular activities if their health condition allows.

Children aged 6 years and older

Children aged 6 years and older displaying one or more of these symptoms within 24 hours of vaccination must:

  • stay home for an observation period of 24 hours;
  • avoid contact with other people.

Refer to the COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool This hyperlink will open in a new window. or call 1-877-644-4545 to discover the procedure to follow.

Symptoms appearing more than 24 hours following vaccination

If symptoms appear more than 24 hours following vaccination, it is unlikely that they are related to the vaccine. Refer to the COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool This hyperlink will open in a new window. or call 1-877-644-4545 to discover the procedure to follow.

Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccines may cause reactions within 5 to 12 days of vaccination. A child displaying these symptoms during that period must:

  • stay home;
  • avoid contact with other people for.

During the 48-hour observation period, the people living with the child and who have had contact with the child may pursue their regular activities while taking into account public health measures.

If the symptoms lessen or disappear within 48 hours of their appearance, children may resume their regular activities if their health condition allows.

If the symptoms are still present 48 hours after their appearance, refer to the COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool This hyperlink will open in a new window. or call 1-877-644-4545. You could also see a health professional to find out whether the child must undergo a screening test or may resume their regular activities if their health condition allows.

These recommendations do not apply if the child has had contact with a person who has COVID-19. In such case, you must refer to the COVD-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool This hyperlink will open in a new window. without taking into account vaccination.

To learn more about COVID-19, click on the link Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Québec.