How to Ease Your Child's Fear of Vaccines
December 01, 2021
Getting a shot can be scary for kids and anxiety-inducing for parents and caregivers. With flu shot season well underway and children's COVID-19 vaccine clinics in full swing, we wanted to share ways to reduce the stress for you and your child.
Plan Ahead and Be Honest
A few days before the scheduled appointment, casually mention to your child that you’re both going to the doctor’s office (or vaccine clinic, or pharmacy) soon for their vaccine. Explain to them that this will help protect them and will only take a second. Being honest is important, telling your child that it will hurt for a moment. If possible, try and schedule the vaccine at a kid-specific vaccine clinic, your pediatrician's office or a school-based site. Remember that words are powerful. Take notice if you are using a word that might make them more upset, such as prick, jab, needle or shot. You can interchange words such as vaccine, immunization or injection.
Don’t be afraid to let your child bring one of their favorite toys or stuffed animals to the appointment. This can make them feel more comfortable and provide distraction.
Ask for Pain Reliever/Numbing Agent
If you know from past experience (or suspect) that your child has a needle phobia, talk to the vaccination location ahead of time and ask if they can use a pain reliever or numbing agent before administering the vaccine.
Distract. Distract. Distract.
Sing a song, tell them a joke, make a funny face. If you can pull your child’s attention away from the needle and make them laugh, they won’t focus all their energy on worrying about the shot.
Lead By Example
If you haven't gotten your flu shot, COVID shot or COVID-19 booster yet, ask the facility ahead of time if you can also get a shot before your child. Show them that the shot is no big deal and that they will have no problem getting it themselves.
Don’t be afraid to celebrate this victory with your child once it is over – bring them to the park, go out for an ice cream cone, let them pick what’s for dinner. This reward will show that you’re proud of them for being brave and may also make the next time your child is due for a shot easier.