Questions & Answers
General Vaccine - General FAQs
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  1. Why do I have to wait 15 minutes after I get a vaccination before I can leave the clinic?
    This rule is for your safety. In rare cases, people may feel dizzy, faint, or have a severe allergic reaction after a vaccination. The standard recommended wait time after immunization is 15-20 minutes. If you have a reaction during this time a member of the clinic staff will be there to take care of you. However please note that side effects can occur anytime (hours or days) after a vaccination. Please contact the IHB if you have any additional questions.

  2. I am going to have surgery soon. Should I get any immunizations or should I wait?
    Whether or not you should receive a vaccination before surgery depends on the particular vaccination and the type of surgery.

    For more information contact a IHB healthcare provider.

  3. If I have a cold should I wait to get my immunizations?
    You can get immunizations if you have a mild illness, such as a cold, low-grade fever, or slight diarrhea. However, if you have a moderate or severe illness, you should wait until you recover to get immunizations to maximize the effectiveness of the vaccination. Another reason for postponing an immunization is because illness can mask any vaccine side effects. You should contact a IHB healthcare provider regarding the risk/benefits of delaying a vaccination due to illness.

  4. I have a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Are there some vaccines that I should not get?
    Only one meningitis vaccine manufacturer lists Guillain-Barré Syndrome as a contraindication to further vaccination with that particular vaccine (alternatives are available). Other manufacturers list GBS as a precaution when considering further vaccination. This means that you and your provider must weigh the potential risks of vaccination (possible recurrence of GBS and other symptoms potentially associated with the vaccine) with the potential risks of not vaccinating (risk of contracting the vaccine-preventable disease causing the possible recurrence of GBS as well as the illness and potential death associated with the disease). You and your provider may contact IHB to assist in your decision process.

  5. Is it safe to donate blood or plasma after getting immunizations?
    There are different guidelines for donating blood or plasma, depending on which immunization you received. While some immunizations have no restrictions for blood donation, others require a 12-month deferral. Please contact the Armed Services Blood Program Office for details on the deferral period for a particular immunization.

  6. I am taking steroids. Are there vaccines that I should not get?
    You need to discuss your steroid use with your health care provider. Based on your health condition, some vaccines will be recommended and some should be avoided.

    If you have been taking high doses of steroids for longer than 2 weeks (i.e., more than 2mg of prednisone per kg/day for 14 days or longer) you should avoid live vaccines. Also, you will need to wait a certain amount of time after you stop taking the steroids before live vaccines will be safe for you. This is because the steroids suppress your immune system and put you at risk for infection from live vaccines.

    High-dose steroids also can decrease your immune response to inactivated vaccines, so you may get limited protection from the vaccine.

    Please contact us if you would like to discuss your questions about steroid use with a IHB healthcare provider. Or you may visit the CDC for more information on this subject.

  7. I care for someone who has a weak immune system. Which vaccines should I avoid?
    As a caretaker, there are some live vaccines that you should avoid. There are other vaccines that are especially important for you to receive. Live vaccines, such as MMR, varicella, zoster, rotavirus, and yellow fever are generally safe for you to get when you are caring for a person with a weak immune system. For protection against influenza, you can request an influenza shot, which contains no live vaccine.

    Smallpox vaccine should not be given to anyone who will be in close contact with a person who is immunosuppressed. Please contact the IHB if you have additional questions.