Ask the KD Experts: Kawasaki Disease and Vaccines


Hello. I was wondering if you can share any information regarding Kawasaki disease and immunizations after onset. My son is 16 years old. He had Kawasaki disease when he was 33 months old. I have been researching the HPV Virus vaccination and those who have side effects. I read that Kawasaki disease is possibly an autoimmune disease, and those with autoimmune diseases are at higher risks of side effects from vaccinations. By chance, are you able to provide any data on this for me? Thank you so much for your time!


Kind regards,



Dear Heidi,

The vaccine vs. KD issue and the verbiage in the package insert for vaccines is all fueled by the legal profession. Panels have been appointed by the vaccine companies to adjudicate relationship between a vaccine and subsequent KD and the expert panels found NO RELATIONSHIP. However, if the vaccine company lists KD as a possible complication, it wards off the possibility of lawsuits, as they have disclosed this as a risk of the vaccine. The CDC has also published a paper looking at KD/vaccine relationships, and none was found.

Additionally, many doctors are misinformed about Kawasaki disease being an autoimmune disease. The term “autoimmune” disease is used to describe diseases in which the primary immune response is to “self.” That means that the body’s immune response gets confused and starts attacking itself. Once that program is set in motion, it is difficult to undo, and this group of diseases tends to be chronic with remissions and relapses, but basically is life-long. Therapies are generally directed toward knocking down the host immune response to stop the destruction of tissues. Examples of autoimmune diseases include juvenile idiopathic arthritis and lupus. KD, on the other hand, behaves more like a self-limited infection in which the immune response is directed toward a foreign invader, not the host itself. KD is not a chronic disease. The inflammation and host immune response is intense but short-lived. Recovery from the acute illness is complete, and symptoms and signs resolve completely. Thus the term “autoimmune” is not appropriate for KD. In fact, it is misleading and should not be used. Unfortunately, many physicians are inadequately educated about KD and mistakenly refer to KD as autoimmune, which only serves to perpetuate the confusion.


Jane C. Burns, M.D.
Professor and Director, Kawasaki Disease Research Center
Dept. of Pediatrics MC 0641
UCSD School of Medicine
9500 Gilman Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92093-0641