What is it?
Kawasaki disease (KD) is an uncommon illness that mostly affects young children under five years of age. Blood vessels throughout the body become inflamed causing a collection of symptoms which include high fever, rash on trunk, limbs and nappy area, red and cracked lips and extreme irritability. The cause of the disease remains unknown and there is no specific test to confirm the illness- it is a constellation of symptoms and the diagnosis is usually made by a paediatric specialist. KD is not contagious to other children.
The treatment for KD is intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) from donated blood transfusions. Immunoglobulins (or antibodies) are used by the immune system to fight germs (viruses or bacteria) in the body.
Kawasaki disease and immunisation
There is no scientific evidence for vaccines causing Kawasaki disease.
Whilst the KD diagnoses may be made post an immunisation, this is called a temporal association and a systematic review (see resources) did not identify a causal link.
Vaccines should be administered in line with the National Immunisation Program – see precaution with live vaccines.
Precaution – live vaccines
According to current guidelines: Immunisation with all live vaccines (such as measles-mumps-rubella [MMR] and varicella [chickenpox]) should be deferred for 11 months following an episode of Kawasaki Disease treated with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). This is due to potential interactions and associated lack of long term vaccine protection following IVIG.
- ScienceDirect: Kawasaki disease and immunisation: A systematic review
- MVEC: Live attenuated vaccines and immunoglobulins or blood products
- The Royal Children’s Hospital Kids Health Info: Kawasaki disease
Author: Adele Harris (SAEFVIC Research Nurse, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute).
Date: January 2020
Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) 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. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.