We all have been terrified of needles at one point or another, especially as kids. If your child is anxious about receiving vaccinations, you as a parent may in turn feel anxious and scared for your child. In particular, a bad experience receiving a vaccination at a clinic can be especially frightening and traumatic for your child. Being prepared for vaccinations will help immensely in easing both your and your child’s anxiety.
Before the Childhood Vaccinations
There are a few things you can do as parents to prepare you and your child for vaccinations. Make sure to get a list of the vaccines your child may need and note down any question you may have for your doctor. If your child has an immunisation record, be sure to bring a copy along to your appointment. You can also pack your child’s favourite toy, book, or blanket for some comfort during their vaccination. If your child is older, it is beneficial to have an honest chat with them about how vaccinations will keep them healthy. Be clear that the needle may pinch or sting, but that any pain won’t last long. Be sure to avoid using vaccinations as a threat (eg.” If you misbehave I will have the nurse give you a needle) and avoid telling scary stories about vaccinations.
During the Childhood Vaccinations
If you have any questions about the vaccinations, be sure to ask the doctor. The doctor will give you a copy of the relevant Vaccine Information Statement which will include information about the vaccines such as the risks and benefits.
During the vaccination, there are a few things you can do as a parent to make your child’s experience easier. For babies and toddlers, you can distract them by cuddling, singing or talking in hushed tones. By smiling, maintaining eye contact and talking to them, you will make your child feel safe and ok. You can even comfort your child with their favorite your or book. Holding your child firmly on your lap will also make them feel more comfortable. Once your child has received all of their shots, make sure to be especially supportive. Cuddle you child and talk with a soothing, praiseful voice. Babies can also be additionally soothed through breastfeeding.
For older children and adolescents, you can distract them by pointing out interesting things in the room or by telling stories. Be sure to support your child if he or she cries, and never scold your child for not “being brave”. Be mindful that fainting is common amongst adolescent’s right after receiving a vaccination. It is advisable for you to wait in the clinic for 15 minutes after receiving a vaccine so you may be observed for any reactions, and for treatment to be provided if needed. It can be beneficial to ask your child’s doctor about the common side effects after a vaccine such as fever and pain and what steps you can take at home to help reduce these at home. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/immunisation-side-effects
After the Appointment
If you have any concerns about your child after they have received their vaccinations, contact the clinic during business hours. If the matter is urgent, contact the Royal Children’s Hospital Immunization hotline on 1300 882 924 or dial 000 in a Medical Emergency