The implications of immunization in the daily practice of pediatric anesthesia

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Purpose of review

Vaccination is an important prevention measure, but requires an intact immune system. Surgery and anesthesia suppress the immune system and may interfere with the benefits of immunization. Moreover, common vaccine side-effects may be misinterpreted as postsurgical complications. This review summarizes the essential basis of immunization and its potential interactions with anesthesia.

Recent findings

Vaccines have mild side-effects, such as fever, but may lead to serious complications in immunocompromised patients. Surgery and anesthesia may decrease the efficacy of a vaccine, or promote vaccine-related complications. It, therefore, reasonable to schedule surgery and anesthesia with a delay either before or after vaccine administration, but there is no consensus among anesthesiologists and pediatricians regarding this timing.


Inactive vaccines are generally well tolerated. Live vaccines provide an effective and long-lasting immunization, but may carry more serious complications. Elective operations should be postponed 1 week after an inactive vaccine and 3 weeks after immunization with a live vaccine. To avoid misinterpretation of vaccine-related side-effects, vaccination should be also delayed after surgery.

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