Scientific article

Mechanisms underlying adverse reactions to vaccines

Published inJournal of comparative pathology, vol. 137 Suppl 1, p. S46-50
Publication date2007

A broad spectrum of adverse events is reported following human vaccination but such reactions are considered to be relatively rare. A variety of mechanisms has been proposed to account for such adverse events. These most commonly relate to the actual process of vaccination and range from the vagal reaction associated with anxiety about needle injection, to use of an inappropriate site of administration, or infection of the healthcare worker by accidental injection during needle-capping. Other adverse events directly associated with the vaccine include reversion to virulence of attenuated vaccine strains of organisms, or contamination of the vaccine product. Adverse events may involve immune-mediated phenomena triggered by exposure to the microbial or other components of vaccines. These include: classical IgE-mediated type I hypersensitivity reactions, and immune-complex type III hypersensitivity (Arthus) reactions. Such reactions may be localized or systemic in nature. A variety of autoimmune reactions has been suggested to be triggered by vaccination, but in general the evidence for such associations remains largely anecdotal. Finally, many reported adverse events are simply chance instances of infection or disease onset around the time of vaccination and are not causally associated with administration of vaccine.

  • Antibody Formation/immunology/physiology
  • Autoimmunity/immunology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Contamination
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity/immunology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infection
  • Injections/adverse effects
  • Vaccination/adverse effects/methods
  • Vaccines/administration & dosage/adverse effects/immunology
Citation (ISO format)
SIEGRIST, Claire-Anne. Mechanisms underlying adverse reactions to vaccines. In: Journal of comparative pathology, 2007, vol. 137 Suppl 1, p. S46–50. doi: 10.1016/j.jcpa.2007.04.012
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0021-9975

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