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Vaccines and bleeding disorders


Vaccines are shots to help prevent disease. The diseases vaccines can prevent are serious, such as polio, whooping cough, and tetanus (lockjaw). Your child needs vaccines, even if he has a bleeding disorder. Your child’s nurse or doctor should give vaccines a certain way to help keep your child from bleeding more than he should. Most children with bleeding disorders can get all of their vaccines.

This information below tells you the safest way for children with bleeding disorders to get vaccines. You can share it with your child’s nurse or doctor if you need to.

How should my child get vaccines?

Your child with a bleeding disorder should get vaccines this way:

  • Only 2 at a time with one in each thigh. No more than 2 vaccines at any doctor’s appointment.
  • Just under the skin instead of in a muscle. A shot under the skin is called a “subcutaneous” (sub CUE tay nee us) injection. (Nurses and doctors just say “sub-q.”) There is less chance of bleeding when the needle does not go into the muscle.
  • In the top of the thigh, if possible.

Before your child gets a shot, ask if it will be under the skin or into the muscle. (Nurses and doctors say “I-M” for a shot into a muscle.) Remind the nurse or doctor that your child has a bleeding disorder.

What if my child needs a vaccine in a muscle?

Ask your child’s nurse or doctor if they can give the vaccine under the skin or another way, such as a liquid or nose spray. You can remind them that your child has a bleeding disorder if you are not sure they remember.

If the doctor or nurse says that the vaccine must go in a muscle, check with St. Jude Hematology before the shot is given. 

After your child gets a vaccine

After a vaccine, the nurse or doctor should press on the spot with sterile gauze and hold an ice pack over it. This will help stop any bleeding where the needle went into the skin. The nurse or doctor might ask you to hold the ice pack. Keep it on your child for 15 to 20 minutes after the shot.

When the gauze and ice pack come off, the nurse will tape a bandage firmly on the place your child got the vaccine.

What to do for swelling and other problems

If the area where your child got the vaccine starts swelling, he might need a shot of clotting factor. You can also hold an ice pack on the area. If your child acts fussy or has a fever after a vaccine, you can give him acetaminophen (Tylenol®). If your child does not feel better in 24 hours, call the doctor or nurse at the office or clinic where the vaccine was given.

The injection site may become slightly red and raised. Continue using ice. Draw around the bump with a soft marker and watch for 24 hours. If it increases in size, redness, or heat, call the St. Jude Hematology Clinic at 901-595-5041, then notify your child’s pediatrician.


If you have questions about vaccines for your child who has a bleeding disorder, call St. Jude Hematology and your child’s pediatrician. If you are concerned about a muscle or soft tissue bleed after your child gets a vaccine, call the H clinic at 901-595-5041.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

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