Should You Give Your Child Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen Before a Vaccine to Reduce Fever and Pain?

Should You Give Your Child Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen Before a Vaccine to Reduce Fever and Pain?

After reviewing evidence based on studies of more than 5000 children age 6 and younger who were immunized, a group of Valley Family Medicine Residency Program faculty and students have concluded that acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol™, works better than ibuprofen for both fever and pain when given in the first 24 – 48 hours after a vaccination, including booster vaccination shots. Children who received acetaminophen after their vaccinations also achieved effective antibody levels.

Ibuprofen did not reduce fever, and while it did reduce pain in primary (first) vaccinations, it did not reduce pain for booster vaccinations.

The bottom line: For children age 6 and younger, it is fine to give them acetaminophen in the first 24 – 48 hours after their vaccination if they have a fever or discomfort—the vaccination will still be effective.

Hang Chau-Glendinning, DO; Blair Baber, PharmD; Jon O. Neher, MD
Valley Family Medicine Residency, University of Washington at Valley Medical Center, Renton

Sarah Safranek, MLIS
University of Washington Health Sciences Library, Seattle

Partnering in Your Child’s Health

Your best resource in managing your child’s health is a primary care physician. Regular well child check-ups let your doctor assess your child’s development, screen for possible health concerns, advise you on child rearing and healthy lifestyle practices and give immunizations to protect your child from serious diseases. Your doctor will remind you when to bring your child in for certain immunizations and screenings. See our Pediatric Health Guidelines and find out what screenings and vaccinations your child should receive and when. Learn what’s included in a well-child visit and why they’re important.

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Valley Medical Center manages a neighborhood network of primary care clinics, staffed with family practitioners. Use “Find a Doctor” on to help match your child with a provider who best fits your needs.

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