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Immunization (vaccination) is a way to trigger your immune system and prevent serious, life-threatening diseases. Immunization exposes you to a very small, very safe amount of the most important diseases you are likely to encounter at some point in your life.

This mild exposure helps your immune system recognize and attack the disease efficiently. If you are exposed to the full-blown disease later in life, you will either not become infected or have a much less serious infection. This is a natural way to deal with infectious diseases.

What should be done if someone has a reaction to a vaccine?

Call a doctor. If the person is having a severe reaction take him or her to a doctor right away.

Call 911 if the person is having difficulty breathing and/or has a change in consciousness. 

After any reaction, tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when the vaccination was given. 

Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) form, or call VAERS yourself at 1-800-822-7967.

In the rare event that a vaccine injures a child, he or she may be compensated through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). For more information about VICP visit their website or call 1-800-338-2382.

2024 American Association for Respiratory Care