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Millions of people get vaccinated each year. Most of them will be fine. But a small portion will experience serious side effects from vaccines.

There are commonly known side effects caused by vaccines. For example, the measles mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) can cause febrile seizures. It is estimated that about 1 in 2,500 babies will experience febrile seizures, which are convulsions brought on by a fever, as a result of the MMR vaccine.

In rare cases it is possible for the vaccine recipient to suffer a severe allergic reaction and go into anaphylactic shock after receiving a vaccine. According for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the chances of suffering from anaphylaxis from a vaccine is between one in several hundred thousand to one in a million.

It is also possible to experience encephalopathy as a vaccine reaction. Encephalopathy is a severe brain condition. Patients are even less likely to suffer encephalopathy from a vaccine than they are anaphylaxis.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a paralyzing condition that affects the nervous system is a rare but possible condition that is often associated with a flu vaccine reaction. However, the link between Guillain-Barre and the flu shot  is so rare that only one or two cases of GBS are reported for every one million vaccinations.

Patients of all ages with autoimmune diseases and other conditions that affect their immune system may be more susceptible to suffering side effects from vaccines. It is important to talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks associated with each vaccine so you can avoid unnecessary vaccine injuries.


  1. Gravatar for Mrs. Reva Berman
    Mrs. Reva Berman

    I received a flu shot in October, 1987 and within two weeks was stricken with G.B.S. There were 50 of us in the Cherry Hill, NJ who either died or got G.B.S. They claimed it was a bad batch of vaccine.

    1. Allison Quering

      Mrs. Berman,

      Wow! I'm from Cherry Hill, and I never heard about that. How scary.

  2. Gravatar for A. Fox
    A. Fox

    It's easy to say that the possibility is very rare. If it hits you, it hits you! I've got GBS / CIDP after a meningitis vaccination. And it's a really bad thing. I will never again do an optional vaccination. I asked about the risks and no one did tell me that such serious problems can occur. The possibility and risks should be better explained so that everyone can decide if its worth the risk.

    1. Allison Quering

      Have you filed a claim with the VICP? There's more information here:

  3. Gravatar for Luther Yount, Jr.
    Luther Yount, Jr.

    For your information – VAERS and the CDC/FDA education – 101

    CDC and FDA are monitoring the safety of 2011-2012 flu vaccines through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is the nation’s frontline system to detect potential vaccine safety problems. VAERS receives reports from anyone who knows about or has experienced a health problem following flu vaccination. Although VAERS cannot determine if a flu vaccine caused a health problem (or adverse event), the system can detect patterns of potential concern that might require investigation.

    VAERS is a passive reporting system, meaning that reports about adverse events are not automatically collected, but require a report to be filed to VAERS. VAERS reports can be submitted voluntarily by anyone, including healthcare providers, patients, or family members. Reports vary in quality and completeness. They often lack details and sometimes can have information that contains errors. “Underreporting” is one of the main limitations of passive surveillance systems, including VAERS. The term, underreporting “refers to the fact that VAERS receives reports for only a small fraction of actual adverse events.”

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