My Son’s Strange Vaccination Reaction

toddler swinging

Happy to be feeling better!

Last week, we headed to the pediatrician for our routine 18-month checkup. Our visit brought the usual stuff – measurements, a physical exam, a developmental assessment, and the part we all dread – the shots. Our particular practice doesn’t do a 15-month visit, so it had been six long months since we’d had to deal with the poking and subsequent screaming. I dreaded it all day long.

While the 15 seconds it took to give him three little pricks in his thighs felt like an eternity, he actually recovered very quickly and was back to his normal smiling self in no time. Afterward, we rewarded him (okay, and us) with a yummy dinner out, and a few extra stories at bedtime. The next morning I woke up and thought nothing of the shots.  I scooped him up out of bed, changed his diaper, made his breakfast, and chatted away with him like I always do.

We were heading out to a friend’s house for some play time, so we were in a bit of a rush to get out the door. I got Cullen dressed and noticed that he seemed to be walking somewhat funny. He was wearing new shoes, so I thought perhaps they were pinching his feet, or maybe he just needed some time to adjust to them. I strapped him into the carseat and we were off.

I got to my friend’s house and plopped him down at her front door. I watched him waddle into her living room, doing the same wide-legged cowboy swagger that he was doing at home. It was at this point that I realized he was actually limping. So I did what any mom would do when at a friend’s house – I immediately stripped him down to his diaper. I thought it must be his shoes, or perhaps those 12-18 month jeans were too tight after all. But the clothes came off and the limp stayed. And it was then that I noticed the two tiny little dots on his right thigh – his shots.

At this point I wasn’t too worried. Of course you never want to see your child in pain or doing something out of character, but I reminded myself of how sore my arm feels after a flu shot, and I figured he was experiencing something similar. A quick Google search told me everything from “it is normal and he’ll be fine tomorrow” to “he most likely has a rare bone disease, take him to the ER immediately!” So just to be safe, I called my pediatrician.

They seemed surprised that he was having lingering pain from the shots, but since there was no redness or swelling around the little prick marks, they thought I could watch and wait. He continued to limp off and on for the rest of the afternoon. When we got home for nap time, I noticed that he kept moving my hand off his leg during story time. I could tell that his thigh was extra sensitive, and at that point I knew it was localized pain causing the limp. I gave him a dose of Motrin, and put him down for his nap.

He woke up happy and limp-free, and I was thrilled that he seemed to recover so quickly. I was glad a small dose of Motrin seemed to be enough to relieve some of that pain. Going forward, I know to ask for his vaccinations to be done in the arms now, as I guess this can happen once toddlers reach walking age.

I don’t want this post to spark a debate about vaccinations – that isn’t the point. But I do think it’s important to talk about how things aren’t always as we expect them to be. During my frantic Googling, it certainly helped me to know that this had happened (and quickly cleared up) for many other toddlers as well.

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