Getting the MMR booster after an adverse reaction

My post MMR and joint pain in toddlers got a ton of traffic.  It is still one of my most visited posts.  Only the breastfeeding husbands get more traffic.  (You pervs.)

I was inspired to write my original MMR post when I was starting to consider whether Lane should get her MMR booster at her 4-year checkup, after the reaction she had from the vaccine when she was 15 months old (knee pain with an unwillingness to walk for a week).  To say I was worried was an understatement.  Well, as a rule I’m not a worrier.  My one foray into wanting antidepressant medication after my mom died was a bit challenging – most antidepressants (at least nearly a decade ago) were also indicated as anti-anxiety, but since even being down and out I wasn’t all that anxious, my doctor was pretty concerned one of the standards — Prozac or Zoloft — would make me abandon all reasonable caution.  I ended up on Wellbutrin, which has a side effect of weight loss.  Oh, and seizures.  Luckily under its spell I had some of the former and none of the latter, and just generally a better ability to get out of bed in the morning.

Anyway, enough of that tangent!!  I was as worried about Lane getting her MMR booster as I’m generally capable of being.  I did a lot of reading, and talked to her pediatrician ad nauseum about it.  He was dubious of the vaccine causing the reaction, but at least was not obnoxious enough to be dismissive of my concerns.  He was supportive of checking her titers instead of doing the vaccine, he was just worried the school district would give us grief over her not getting the booster.

I cannot find where I initially read it, but here’s the gist of the knowledge I put together about the reaction Lane suffered.  Joint pain from MMR is caused by the rubella component of the vaccine.  People who have the joint pain reaction tend to have the reaction because they are, at the point they are vaccinated, susceptible to actual German measles infection, and thus their bodies react more strongly when the vaccine is introduced to their system, as joint pain is a symptom of actual German measles infection.

The alternative of checking her titers to see if she was properly protected by her first shot was alluring in avoiding a shot, but Lane is not a child who gets over shots or blood draws easily.  The little tiny bit of blood they had to draw to test her iron levels when she was three-and-a-half left her heaving and sobbing for like 20 minutes.  She definitely takes after her daddy in this respect.  So the idea of having her titers checked, and the full-on mega blood draw it meant certain trauma and freakout.  And if her titers didn’t check out right, she’d have to get the shot anyway, at which point the same reaction could have happened because she wasn’t properly protected against rubella.  If I went ahead and just got her booster, while chances are she didn’t actually need it, it’s because she didn’t need it that she would be protected from adverse side effects.  And if she did have another side effect, then that probably meant she needed the shot.

So, we went ahead with the shot.  This booster was administered in her arm, rather than her leg as it was last time.  And she came through it with flying colors.  A few tears at the initial administration, but the next day after the Band-Aid was gone, she couldn’t even tell me which arm she got her shot in.  I asked her nearly every day for the next couple weeks if she had any boo-boos on her arm and she always said no… and she would totally let me know if her arm hurt.

That about does it.  I just wanted to share for anyone looking for a follow-up.


34 responses to “Getting the MMR booster after an adverse reaction

  1. Hey there,
    It’s useful to read your write-up. My 4-year old boy just had an MMR vaccination a few days ago, and this morning he woke up with a pain in his knee, which prevents him from walking around. I was quite panic because there was no obvious sign of injury, and no vaccination flyer has told us about this kind of side-effect. The vaccine was administered on his arm, but his knee hurts. I wonder if I should report this to his pedic and bring my wee one to see the doctor…
    A confused and worried mother.

  2. i had the MMR (live virus) administered in my L arm, and have had neck pain and cramps, joint pain in R ankle (!) and joint pain in left wrist/hand/thumb area. i’m not a joint pain person, so this was unexpected and concerning. i never knew that it was linked with the vaccine, and was joking to my husband that the vaccine was causing my aches and pains, becuase they started a few days after the shot. hope they oblige and go away.

  3. I really appreciate your original and follow up posts. My son who is 12 months old had his first MMR shot 12 days ago and started limping this morning. I checked him all over and nothing looked wrong externally, so something must be bothering him internally. And he’s been at home with me almost every day since the shot so I’m pretty sure he hasn’t had any trauma. I’m theorizing that it’s joint pain as a side effect from the MMR. It’s nice to know, although unfortunate for the child, that this has happened to someone else…makes me feel like my theory is valid! Thanks

  4. Was so interested to find your narratives. I have just returned from my GP’s with my 31/2yr old son. He had his pre-school booster of the MMR about a month ago and for the last few weeks he has been complaining of leg pain and is showing a definate reluctance to walk and when he is walking he has slowed to such a slow pace. GP has said he thinks it’s unlikely to be the MMR but this isn’t the first time this has happend.
    When he had his first MMR at the beginning of this year (late because I was dubious about the vaccine) he started within 2 weeks with a very prominent limp and his legs started to give way underneath him!!! Can’t tell you how scary that is to see a child’s legs just give way, obviously straight to the hospital where a few Dr’s raised an eyebrow at me saying the only thing I could think of him having had recently was the MMR, that and a temp that I had again but down to the vaccine.
    In the end they never answered my is it the MMR, pretty much wrote it off as viral, they did monitor him for a few months as the limping returned on and off for about 7mths.
    But here we are again and it seems to be a bit of coincidence that its happened again, so guess we will see what happens when we have seen the paeds at the hospital but is good to see that my child isn’t the only this has happened to and I won’t be letting them dismiss the possibility of the MMR being responsible.

  5. My son just got his second dose of MMR a few days ago. He also developed low fever and knee pain since yesterday. I was also worried and wonder whether it is normal.

  6. My 4 year old daughter had the MMR 3 weeks ago. Yesterday she developed a rash and last night she woke with knee pain which after reading this I am sure was the MMR shot. Will call doc just to be sure.

  7. My son Jack is 16 months old and has an ear infection. two days after taking the antibotic he wouldn’t walk. My doc said to get x-rays. So we went to the ER and did turns out he has Toxic synovitis. Which is an onset hip pain due to upper respitory infections. He did not get his shots since he had the ear infection. He should be able to walk in 7-10 days, like nothing happed. He is due to go back and have vaccines next week but I’m gonna hold off since one is MMR. I’m sure it’s fine to wait till he’s closer to 2 yrs. old!

  8. My 18 month daughter had an MMR vaccine today and she now appears to have joint pain in her left knee. She limps when walking, and does not like the knee to be flexed. She has been walking since she was 10 months and has never exhibited this symptom before. We will contact the doc to notify them. If this many people are experiencing it, it should be documented as a possible reaction.

  9. I read your post and thought that I would tell you about our experience with the MMR. My daughter was 18 mo old when she recieved the MMR vaccine. Two weeks after recieveing it, she suddenly quit walking. She hollered with pain every time she tried to stand. She was eventually diagnosed with Toxic Synovitis, an adverse reaction to the MMR vaccine. It took her 6 weeks to fully recover. She has since been medically exempt from all vaccines, as she had a reaction to the booster as well. The doctors did not want to admit at first that she was indeed having a reaction. I wish that they would inform parents about such reactions, as they are more common than reported.

    • My 4 1/2 had 5 shots in one dr. visit back in September in order to be accepted into pre-school. Complained of upper right leg thigh and hip discomfort on and off for months. X-rays did not show anything. It is now December and she has been finally dx with Toxic Synovitis. One of the 5 shots that she received was the MMR. Her pediatrician’s office is not acknowledging that the shot has anything to do with the dx while I am sure this leg pain is from the vaccine. How do I get them to acknowledge this is a reaction and go on record to report this?

  10. my daughter had 18 months mmr jab yesterday and can not put weight on her leg or walk. took her to the doctors and they said nothing is wrong and give her some pain relief. before she would do nothing but run and now she she cries and tries to walk but falls over. should i take her to the hospital?

    • Hi Nik,

      You could take her to the hospital, but they will run a battery of blood tests and want to do x-rays and if it’s due to the MMR they may just tell you they can’t find anything. However, it’s hard to not want to seek help – I did. If you’re not 100% sure it’s the MMR (and how could you be, really) it might be better to be safe than sorry and take her to the ER or at least an urgent care clinic, if you have one in your area. I hope she feels better soon.

  11. Hi
    My daughter is now 6 years old. Back in 2004 she was administered the mmr shot at her 15 month “WELL visit” 10 days later she was unable to walk, was agitated and in pain. Her knee felt hot to touch. Being first time parents at the time we did not want to take any chances so we took her to our ped dr. right away. they referred us to a specialist in orthropedics for children. He sent us to the hospital for mri which shownthere was infection. This dr was very unhelpful and wanted to do open knee surgery right away and basically told me I had 5 minutes to decide bc his shift was ending. I was crying and did not know what to do and he told me that if she did not get the surgery this infection could spread through her entire body and she could die. he also told me that the only way to know for sure if there is an infection is by opening the knee up. My mother in law was there and helped me get through the decision process and we decided this dr was in such a rush he definatly was not about to do open knee surgery on my 15 month old. we filed a complaint with the hospital on him. To make the story short we found another doc who was the total opposite. She did some more tests and put her on iv antibiotics. My daughter had to stay in the hospital a few days. This happened in 04 so the details are blurry. I can tell you that I too questioned the mmr shot and was blown off. Years later when I regained a copy of my childs entire health file I looked through the dr notes history and noticed that the dr. made a notation in the file about the knee incident it said “10 days after mmr shot”. Obviously they took notice that there could possibly be a connection. The final diagnosis was Toxic Synovitis. I am still looking into filing an adverse affect form even though it was so long ago. My daughter had many other mysterious incidences after her shots and was constantly ill. I stopped vacinating her at age 3 and she is healthier then ever before. My second child now 14 months has not been sick at all and he is exposed to my daughter who is in elementary school. Ive done my research and weighed the pros and cons and going by my passed experience with my daughter I feel I have made the best decision for my children.


    • Hello,
      I just read your message that came up in my inbox and was wondering how your son is doing? I personaly would not wait and take him in to an er clinic right away. That does not sound right and I never heard of “Walk around and let the medicine circulate?!!” Sounds like a bunch of BULLSHIT if you ask me. I do not vacinate anymore bc of all the crap my little girl went through with vaccinations. I stopped at around age 3. The doctors would blow me off bc they do not want to tell anyone the truth! They are pumping our kids with too many shots at one time! Compare it to other countires. I go to a family doctor now bc they respect my decision as a parent and dont threaten me if I dont follow the schedule they want. My daughter has been healthier than ever since I stopped and my son who is now 14 months has NEVER been ill and he is exposed. Read my blog on what happened with my daughter after her mmr shot. couldnt walk had knee problems. Just do your research and make the best decision for your son. I pray that he is doing better.

  13. My daughter just had an MMR and I noticed a slight limp the very next day. The following day and today it is much more pronounced and she stumbles all over the place, keeping her bum leg stiff, and limping. Prior to the shot she was running everywhere and could easily navigate outside. She burst into tears when I tried to bend her leg (the one the shot was in) to put it in her pj’s and yelped later when I gingerly tried to move it. Poor kid. Thank you for sharing all of your experiences. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one noticing such a reaction to the MMR. I think I’m going to look up more on the Toxic Synovitis mentioned above.

  14. Ok, maybe this is a stupid question. But I see most people talking about the problem occuring “sometime” after the shot and it seems most children on here have had the shot in the arm which then affected the leg. My daughter had the shot in her leg and woke up this morning limping (after a low grade fever last night). So I guess I’m a little confused if this is serious (doc closed right now). It would seem to me that the limping is due to the pain and tenderness from the shot itself..seeing how it was in that leg. But at the same point, my daughter is almost 3 and this was one of her first shots because I was so terrified about what I read about immunizations. I finally broke down and did it, and now I’m not sure if I’m just overreacting.

    • Hi Jess,

      My child got the shot in her leg, and then had a reaction in the same leg… but her reaction started 12 or 13 days after getting the shot. It was seriously unlikely that her leg was just sore from the shot, because she’d been fine for nearly two weeks afterwards. I think a number of other people who’ve commented saw similar reactions — where the reaction started a week or more after the shot. I hope your daughter’s OK! I’m inclined to think (and of course, I am not a doctor!) that if you’re talking the next day after the shot, it may very well just be soreness at the injection site vs. joint pain. Hopefully some baby Tylenol helps her feel a little better.

  15. My 15 month old son just got his first MMR vaccine yesterday, and this morning every time he tries to walk, he cries and sits back down. I called the doctor and spoke to the nurse/receptionist, and they just said it is probably tenderness from the injection site. I will wait and see how he does after getting up from his morning naps, but I’m so glad to find this blog because nothing I was reading listed joint pain or kids having trouble walking as a reaction to the MMR. But I’m glad to read about the toxic synovitis so that if this reaction continues I can be aware and go in armed with info.

  16. My 4 yr-old just yesterday got his MMR along with 3 other vaccines in his thighs – 2 on each thigh, right after we got off the car he started complaining about pain on his left leg. To me he was just exagerating or playing around so we ignored it, when i came back to my mom’s to pick him up she mentioned he complained all day. My son loves to play soccer and it was weird that he didn’t or couldn’t play that day at the park. This morning he woke up with the same pain and i was becoming worried that maybe the shot was not administered correctly;however, i am so glad i found all this info. Now i know my child is not a first, and that his pain is not be ignored, rather attended and will be gone away soon. (hopefully) Thanks!

  17. My 4 year old son recieved his MMR shot on Tuesday and as of today he is still limping. He was in so much pain that he couldn’t even go to school on Wednesday morning. It bothers me to see him in pain like this but it’s also helpful to see that I’m not alone in this. I know that it will soon go away but it’s sad that the little ones have to suffer from this shot.

  18. Just found your site because I Googled “limping after MMR” — our toddler had a fever and was limping (and stumbling) after the MMR (which she got in her arm). The nurse told us she would probably have a fever a week later, and sure enough, 1 week and 1 day later, she had a fever of around 101. The fever has lasted for three days, and on the second day, we noticed she was limping. It was like she didn’t want to bend her knees. She is also exhausted, cries a lot, clings to me, and refuses to eat much. It is our first experience with illness for her, other than a runny nose. She is a really healthy, sturdy girl. We are of course in touch with her doctor about it, and we hope it will resolve soon. Just wanted to post to back up your experience, and in case others have similar experiences. 😦

  19. My twins had their 4yrs mmr shots on different days , yesterday and today, my first twin complained about very bad knee pain the same evening to a point where he couldn’t walk anymore and just cried. twin 2 had his shot today and he is in so much pain right now that I just called the healthline and they told me to go to A&E. I’m so relieved to see all your posts and know he’ll be alright. twin 1 complained of pain again this morning but it was more of a stiffness after the long sleep and once he was moving around he was fine. How scary!!!

  20. My son who is 4 and 1/2 years old and didn’t start getting any shots until he was four just got his second set of boosters. The shot was given in his arm and that night he complained that his legs and feet hurt. In the morning they were bothering him. Once he was up for a while he was feeling fine so I stopped worrying. That afternoon he curled up in a blanket and took a nap (not normal) wok up told me his legs and feet hurt. Then he hobbled out the door to see what his sister was up to. I went out side to see them and he wanted to come in (not normal) looked at his legs and he had gray bumps all over and his ankles were swollen. Took him to Urgent Care and the Dr. there told me basically he caught one of the shots he was given and it should go away soon. Because he got MMR, POlio and Dtap (I kick myself for this now) all at the same time they don’t know which one he is reacting to. So I followed up with our Dr.’s office. And the new Dr. I saw told me she had never seen anything like that before and how did I know the immunizations caused it. I also told her she needed to report this adverse reaction and she told me that she had never heard of that before. I was so angry that I knew more about this than the Dr. did. I am looking to find out where my other Dr. went to because I will not be going back to this lady!!! So frustrated

  21. My 4 yr old son had his Vacination shot 6 days ago and has had complaints about his knee after being given the neddle in his arm.
    He cant walk well and is constatly complaining about the pain.
    I asked my Doctor before I gave my son the injection about the safety as I have read bad things about vacinations in general.
    I am 40 weeks pregnant should have given birth 2 days ago and am seriously considering not vacinating my baby.

  22. My daughter is 27 months old and recieved her first MMR vaccine 2 weeks ago. I prolonged MMR because I was nervous about it’s possible connection with autism. I know no doctor will admit a connection, but I take other parent’s stories seriously. 10 days after the shot my daughter developed a rash on the back of her neck and by 12 days after her MMR she was covered head to toe in “measle” spots and had a red burn like rash on both cheeks and a swollen face. She was having strange behaviour, showing fear of family members. She had fevers and was eating very little. She also woke up 2 days in a row saying her knees and arm hurt and the next day that just her knees hurt. Public health is filing an adverse reaction report. Today she saw her pediatrician who said the joint pain would not be related to the shot and she probably “just had a long day.” What a joke. I will not be giving any more MMR shots and possibly no more vaccines ever again. There are just too many unknowns.


    • Hi i just came across you. My daughter is 24 now, she also has arthritis from the age of 6 she also suffers ulceractive colitis at the age of 15. I no mmr and mr caused these horrible conditions.

  24. My 14 month old recieved her 4 set of shots 6/26/12 and she woke up 6/27/12 walking funny. Her legs spread out,not really wanting to bend over and sort of walking on her tippy toes. She was fussy as shr woke, slipped in and out of a drowsy but still awake. It was awkward. I googled and came across your posts. My motherly instincts tell me that these damn shots are whats causing her to walk funny&its stating to worry me. Lets see what her ped says

  25. My daughter had her shot on 7 june, 2012 exactly 2 days after her first birthday, within 3 weeks she could not move or stand-up anymore, most of her joints got swollen, none of her doctors could diagnose her, none suspected the MMR vaccine, evenatully I was told its a rare case in her age and probably she had juvenille arithrits and needed a specaillized doctor, after finding this specaillized doctor he said its most probably a viral infection and it could be herpes or the vaccine itself, now she has been on anti-inflamatory for more than 6 weeks, she is getting much better but really slow. I did my own reserach as well, please google the term “viral arithritis” its clear from many sources that the rubella vaccine in the MMR shot is the source of these troubles although its a rare incident and the problem is that most pediatricians have no clue about it!!! let me know of any similar incidents please.

  26. So helpful and makes perfect sense. After hours in the ER, lots of tears (from boog and myself) and walking out with a diagnosis of the toxic synovitis and not knowing what the heck it was or why- I spent the entire day researching and this really turned on the light in my head. My boy (4 years) hasn’t walked for 2 days now and is still in a lot of pain but hopefully it’s working its way out. Glad I came across this and feel it should be something listed as a side effect of the MMR vaccine. That’s for sure.

  27. My 4yr old son got a set of shots on Monday, 2 days ago. He was all fuzzy and not cooperating at the doctor’s visit but still got the shots. When we got home he was all fine and showed no signs of anything being different. He went to sleep early and slept till very late on Tuesday. I just figured it could be the shots. When he finally woke up I noticed he was “limping” on his right leg. I asked if he had fallen and hurt himself and checked for any bruises or areas that could be swollen. Nothing. I asked over and over if his knee was hurting and he would tell me no. I checked up and down for tenderness and nothing. All I can think off is that it could be a side effect from the vaccines 😦 It really scared me to thing this since I have done enough random research on side effects and have come across some gruesome stories. Mind you he CAN bend his knee when he sits down and I can fold it with a little force. It seems to get past a certain point and then it gives in. I already spoke to the his pediatrician(s) and they seemed to agree with me. They at no time tried to disagree with me on my vaccine theory. They asked the obvious questions (possible injury, bruise, swelling, redness etc.) which I too asked myself and then asked me to apply cold compresses to the knee area and apply a muscle ointment to see if that helped it or made it better. Asked me to do this for 24 hrs and if nothing changed to take him in to get checked. Well 24 hrs later and my son is still not able to bend his knee when walking. I must wait one more day to take him in since they will be closed for 4th of July but according to the doc there seems to be no need to take him to the ER. Said if there was no pain, swelling or fever that we could just wait that extra day with out running the risk of permanent damage. To my joy, my son is apparently showing a little bit of improvement and appears to occasionally bend the knee. Praying it goes away entirely and we get no more of these side effects. Thanks for the blog/post(s) and to all those who have shared their stories.


  29. This has been happening for awhile. In 1986 my daughter got a dpt vaccine on a Friday, the following Monday she couldn’t walk because of pain in her hip. She developed a fever, so took her to her pediatrician. I told him she had dpt shot. He said it couldn’t be because of vaccines and sent her home to take tyleonol. Her father and I had a bad feeling so we took her to the hospital in the city. By the time we got there she had a fever of 105. After blood tests and xrays the doctor determined it was Toxic synovitis caused from vaccination. She was in the hospital for five days with leg in traction and given two types of antibiotics. The good news is she made a complete recovery.

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