Use these handy checklists to screen patients for contraindications and precautions to vaccination

Before giving any doses of vaccines, clinicians should make sure patients and parents are carefully questioned about contraindications or precautions to vaccination. This helps ensure that any potential risks of vaccination are minimized.

  • A contraindication is a condition that increases the risk for a serious adverse reaction to a vaccine. For example, it is a contraindication for a patient who had a severe allergic reaction (such as anaphylaxis) after a previous dose to receive subsequent doses of the same vaccine.
  • A precaution is a condition that might increase the risk for a serious adverse reaction, or that might compromise the ability of the vaccine to produce immunity. An example would be administering measles vaccine to a person with passive immunity to measles from a blood transfusion. In general, when a precaution condition is present, vaccinations are deferred. However, situations may arise when the benefit of protection from the vaccine outweighs the risk of an adverse reaction, and a provider may decide to give the vaccine.

Several lists are available that describe contraindications and precautions for various vaccines. But if you are looking for a simple way to screen patients, the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) has developed screening checklists (with “yes” or “no” answers) that can be filled out by patients/parents while they are waiting to be seen. This method not only saves clinicians time, but it also helps ensure that all necessary questions are answered prior to vaccination. Also of benefit, a second page accompanying the checklist provides helpful information for healthcare professionals about why each question is included on the checklist and what to do if the patient’s answer suggests a possible reason to withhold a vaccine.

Be sure to check out these handy checklists to determine which ones can be of benefit in your practice setting!

Screenings checklists for:

Specific age groups

Specific vaccines

Many of these screening checklists also are available in multiple languages on the IAC Screening Questionnaires Web page.

General references on contraindications and precautions (for healthcare professionals)

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.