Vaccinations are a routine part of a child’s medical care. It is one of the best ways to boost your child's immune system and protect them against many diseases.1,2 However, most vaccines are administered using a needle, and it can be painful and frightening for a child.3,4
There are some things you can do to deal with your child’s fear of injections.
Before the appointment4-6
- Tell your child why it is important to take the injection. Mention that it is necessary for keeping them healthy.
- Do not use the term injection as a threat or punishment.
- Instead of telling the child that the injection will be painless, explain what's going to happen in simple language – for example, "you may feel a little pinch that will go away very fast’’. Try using words like “pressure” or “poke” rather than “pain” or “shot.”
At the paediatrician’s clinic:
During a vaccination injection, you could try the following tips:2-7
- Distract your child: Distracting helps reduce pain and anxiety. Right before the injection, distract your child by:
- Singing their favourite songs
- Narrating a story
- Pointing out interesting things in the room, such as a poster or an object.
- Bring your child’s favourite toy, book or blanket
- Having something pleasant to focus on may help to calm your child through the process
- Hold your child: Holding your child can soothe and comfort them, making them feel protected. Your comforting embrace can also:
- Prevent the child from moving their arms and legs
- Allows the paediatrician steady control of the limb and the injection site
- Giving a sweet solution of sucrose or glucose right before the injection can help reduce your child’s pain response
- Remember to stay calm-if you worry, it will make your child more anxious and stressed
After the appointment:
Most children are fine after vaccination. Some children may be fussy, have a low fever or feel pain at the injection site. You can ask your paediatrician to prescribe medicines to help your child with the pain or to lower the fever.
Don’t forget to congratulate and praise your child after the vaccination.4
- Government of Canada. A Parent's Guide to Vaccination [Internet]. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-liv.... Accessed on Mar 3, 2020.
- Canadian Paediatric Society. Vaccination and your child [Internet] [Updated Sept, 2016]. Available at: https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/vaccination_and_your_child. Accessed on Mar 3, 2020.
- Immunisation FAQs [Internet]. Available at: https://raisingchildren.net.au/guides/a-z-health-reference/immunisation-.... Accessed on Mar 3, 2020.
- Government of Québec. Reducing the Pain and Anxiety of Vaccination in Children [Internet]. Available at: https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/advice-and-prevention/vaccination/reduci.... Accessed on Mar 3, 2020.
- National Health Service. Vaccination tips for parents [Internet] [Updated Feb 18, 2020]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/vaccination-appointment-tips-.... Accessed on Mar 3, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Make Shots Less Stressful [Internet]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/visit/less-stressful.html. Accessed on Mar 3, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to Hold Your Child During Vaccination [Internet]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/visit/holds-factsheet.html. Accessed on Mar 3, 2020.