Preparing Your Child for Immunizations
It’s common for both adults and children to feel nervous about receiving immunizations. While adults can usually rationalize the benefits of immunizations, children often cannot rationalize if they are very frightened or too young. As an experienced nurse immunizer, I’ve seen it all with children – from those who sit still and don’t even bat an eye, to those who are kicking and screaming in protest. Below we’ll outline some tips and suggestions to promote a positive experience for your child’s immunizations at TravelSafe Clinic.
Prepare your child in advance
Generally, children 2 years of age and older should be told about the vaccines shortly before the clinic visit. School age children can be told the day before, or even earlier depending on how your child copes. When informing your child about their vaccine appointment:
- Speak calmly even if you feel nervous about your child’s vaccinations.
- Use words that lessen anxiety such as pressure, squeeze or poke rather than words like pain, hurt, or sting.
- Avoid giving false reassurance by saying it won’t hurt.
- Avoid apologizing to the child that they have to go through this as it frames the experience as something bad that is happening rather than something that protects them.
- Explain that the vaccine is needed to stay healthy.
Consider coming in for your pre-travel consultation in advance
Parents have the option to come in first for a pre-travel consultation for the family and return with children at a later date for immunizations. This can allow parents to take in all information without the distraction of managing children. There is a lot of information provided during a consultation which can sometimes cause anxiety for older children before receiving immunizations. When parents return with their child at a later date for vaccines a plan will already be in place about which vaccines the child will receive so it is a much quicker appointment.
When at the appointment
- Comfort restraint: cuddle your child firmly in your lap to calm your child and keep arms and legs still so vaccines can be given safely.
- Use distraction: have your child focus on something immediately before and during the injection. Older children can use books, music, or play games on a phone or tablet. Bubbles, or a squeaky, light-up musical toy can help to distract younger children.
- Breastfed babies can be nursed before, during, and after immunization to provide comfort and distraction. Breastmilk contains naturally calming substances.
After the immunization
- Keep a positive attitude and provide reinforcement, such as “I knew you could do it!”
- Offer a surprise reward such as going to the park or playing their favourite game.
The health professionals at TraveSafe Clinic will do everything they can to help promote a positive experience for you and your child!
TravelSafe Immunization Clinic