On Dec. 21, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new combination hexavalent vaccine (Vaxelis) that includes antigens for six different diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, poliomyelitis and invasive haemophilus influenza type B. Combination vaccines have been created by manufacturers to purportedly reduce the number of shots a child must receive to be in compliance with government recommended childhood vaccine schedules and to simplify ordering, transport and storage of vaccines. Drawbacks to the multivalent vaccines include a higher risk of pain and swelling at the injection site and, and for Merck’s MMRV (mumps, measles, rubella, varicella) vaccine in particular, a higher incidence of febrile seizures in children under age four. The product manufacturer package insert for the new hexavalent vaccine states that Vaxelis is contraindicated in children with a history of severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients of the vaccine, or to any “other diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, pertussis-containing vaccine, inactivated poliovirus vaccine, hepatitis B vaccine, or H. influenzae type b vaccine.”
Do you know how to recognize a vaccine reaction? Like with prescription drugs and other pharmaceutical products, reactions to vaccines can be mild or severe. There can be complete recovery or long lasting health problems after vaccine reactions. Rarely, vaccine reactions can be fatal. If you are making a decision about vaccination for yourself or your child, it is important to first become fully informed about each vaccine’s reported side effects, precautions and contraindications, which means reasons for why a person may be at risk for having a serious reaction. It is especially important for parents to become informed about vaccine complications and how to recognize the symptoms of a vaccine reaction.