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Getting vaccinated will never top the list of favorite childhood activities. But it doesn’t have to be a traumatic event for you or your child. Use these tips to help your shot-reluctant child overcome their concerns about immunization.

Preparing Younger Children

Teach your child mindful breathing and other stress reduction strategies. Bring favorite items and activities to the appointment to distract your child and make the experience less stressful. Let them have choices about what to bring, such as a stress ball, Play-Doh to squeeze, a light-up toy, a favorite stuffed animal, I-Spy or pop-up book, or a visual screen with a favorite show, video or music.

Talk to toddlers and preschoolers just before their scheduled appointment. Reassure them that they will feel the pinch. But it will only hurt for a minute, and when it's over, they'll be protected from different illnesses.

  • Don’t overwhelm your child with too much information.
  • Use simple language and terms they understand, such as shots, ouchies, pinch and stick.
  • Tell them this is medicine they don’t take by mouth.
  • Be honest if they ask will it hurt.


Day of the Vaccine 

If your child is small, provide a position for comfort that allows you to hug them while leaving an arm accessible for the injection. If your child likes to watch what’s happening then sit them on your lap facing outwards. Let them sit front-to-front with their head on your shoulder if they’d prefer not to view the process.


Preparing School-Age Children and Teens 

Vaccination is a timely topic that often dominates social media and more traditional news outlets with different opinions and concerns. Share your views with your child and discuss the importance of immunization and the protection it provides.

Begin this conversation about a week before the appointment for teens. Discussions with school-age children can begin closer to the appointment date.

  • Engage your child in a candid, open dialogue about immunization.
  • Explain your position on vaccination and discuss the issue calmly.
  • Let them share their feelings and concerns without judgment or criticism.


Day of the Vaccine

Sit next to your child while they get immunized. Put your arm over their shoulder or rub their back if those gestures bring them comfort. Visual screens, toys and breathing exercises can provide welcome distractions.

For all children and adolescents, sitting in a comfortable position and keeping their arm as still as possible will help minimize any discomfort. If possible, let them choose which arm receives the injection.

Always praise your child for their bravery and let them know you’re proud of their efforts when the appointment is over.

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