Families have different reasons for not vaccinating their children against COVID or other illnesses. The Washington Department of Health (DOH) reports that vaccination rates dropped 13 percent in 2021. If you’ve put off taking your child to get a vaccine because your child falls apart with fear at the sight of a needle, here are some tips and tricks to break through that barrier.
Tips and Tricks
- Explain why they are getting a vaccination in words they understand. For example, “If you don’t get vaccinated you might get sick and miss your birthday party.”
- Bring brave with you. A favorite superhero on a picture, a hat, a shirt, or a mask provides something to look at and makes them feel brave while they get their shot. If Grampa is their superhero, bring a picture of him!
- Don’t lie. Be honest that this isn’t fun. Let them know you understand their feelings and reassure them that they are brave enough to get this accomplished.
- Tell their doctor or nurse before the appointment that your loved one has a fear of needles and ask for ideas. Go in with a shared plan for how to calm, distract, or reward your brave one.
- Ask if there’s a cream or spray to numb the injection site. If yes, use this information to explain why they probably won’t feel a thing.
- Give them control. When do they want to go? Do they want company? Do they have any ideas about how to feel brave or how to earn a reward?
- Practice breathing slow and easy and talk about how to use that breath anytime you are feeling afraid or anxious. You might mention that calm breathing reduces pain.
- Bring a treat or preferred distraction for the waiting room: games, shows on the tablet, a favorite toy…or plan some new jokes.
- If it’s better not to look at anything, help them close or cover their eyes. You can offer a hand to squeeze or something to hold or touch—like a favorite blanket, pillow or stuffed animal—to direct sensory attention away from the place where the needle goes in.
- If they want you to stay during the injection, be calm yourself. Calm is contagious.
Resources and Related Information
- Pediatricians build vaccination schedules for children at specific ages and stages to maximize their effectiveness. Waiting until later might harm your child.
- The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detailed recommendations for Child and Adolescent Immunizations, including a schedule.
- If a person is allergic to eggs, gelatin, polyethylene glycol, or yeast, let a doctor know. Some vaccines include these ingredients. If you ask, there may be another option.
- All CDC recommended vaccinations go through a rigorous Testing and the Approval Process.
- If you have read, heard, or thought about something that makes you nervous, tell your doctor. Always ask where information comes from, and check to make sure the source is trustworthy.