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Ann Pharmacother. 2007 Jul;41(7):1227-32. Epub 2007 May 22.

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen for prevention of adverse reactions associated with childhood immunization.

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Graduate Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To evaluate the literature examining prophylactic use of acetaminophen and ibuprofen for prevention of adverse reactions associated with childhood immunization.


Articles were identified via MEDLINE/PubMed/EMBASE (1966-March 2007) using the following key terms: vaccination, immunization, diphtheria-tetanus toxoids-whole pertussis (DTwP), diphtheria tetanus-toxoid, whole pertussis, diphtheria-tetanus toxoids-acellular pertussis (DTaP), acellular pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type B, inactivated poliovirus, pneumococcal 7-valent conjugate, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal C-conjugate, varicella zoster, hepatitis B, influenza, pneumococcal polysaccharide, adverse reactions, analgesics, antipyretics, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, infant, and child.


No limitations were placed on article selection.


Five articles examining the effects of prophylactic acetaminophen or ibuprofen for adverse effects associated with either DTaP or DTwP vaccine were retrieved. In one randomized controlled trial of children aged 4-6 years given DTaP, no effect of prophylactic acetaminophen 15 mg/kg/dose, up to 450 mg, or ibuprofen 10 mg/kg/dose, up to 300 mg, was found on the incidence of fever, redness, pain, swelling, or itching. In 3 randomized studies of DTwP, either acetaminophen 10-15 mg/kg/dose or ibuprofen 20 mg/kg/24 hours, given in 3 equal doses before or at the time of immunization and every 4-8 hours thereafter for 12 or more hours, reduced fever, pain, fussiness, and local redness in infants 2-7 months of age compared with placebo. Results were not duplicated in older infants/children. No studies investigated use of prophylactic acetaminophen or ibuprofen for any other vaccine.


Use of prophylactic acetaminophen and ibuprofen may reduce the incidence of adverse reactions in young infants receiving DTwP vaccine; however, DTwP has been replaced with DTaP, and no benefits have been demonstrated for this vaccine when evaluated in children aged 4-6 years, or with any other vaccine currently in use. Thus, neither drug can be recommended prophylactically to prevent vaccine-associated adverse reactions. Individuals at high risk for seizures may, however, warrant special consideration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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