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        -- Marshall  McLuhan

Hand In Hand Pediatrics
725 River Road, Suite 208,     Edgewater, NJ 07020  |  tel: 201.840.8055
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Using Tylenol Before Vaccines         
By: George Chai, MD FAAP

It has been common practice to give a child acetaminophen prior to vaccination in order to help alleviate the pain and fever that is associated with vaccines. The thought was that if the medication was given before shots, prophylactically, it would have taken effect by the time shots are given and the child is saved from the discomfort of shots. However, the results of a recent study published in the Lancet conducted on children 9 to 16 weeks actually suggest that we may be doing more harm than benefit.

As previously suspected, the prophylactic use of acetaminophen decreased the chance of fever above 38 degrees celsius (100.4 farenheit). However, the chance of high fever above 39.5 degrees celsius (103 farenheit) remained the same in both children treated prophylactically with acetaminophen and in those untreated. The surprising result of this study was that children administered acetaminophen prophylactically had decreased antibody responses. From this study, it is theorized that acetaminophen may decrease the inflammatory and immunologic response of vaccines.

Although more studies need to be conducted to see if this is true of all anti-fever medications, older age groups and determine the length of time between administration of acetaminophen and vaccinations, it is clear that acetaminophen doesn't prevent high fever (above 103) and may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

As such, it is prudent not to administer acetaminophen prior vaccines unless a child develops significant fever or is at risk of high fever and febrile seizures.



Article written by Dr. George Chai

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