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5 Tips for Preparing Children for Flu Vaccinations

child recieves flu vaccination
Posted on November 9, 2022
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Many of us have been in this situation before: you have talked to your son or daughter about the importance of getting a flu vaccine, explained what will happen once you get to the office or pharmacy, and they are confident when they walk in. But then they may lose that confidence once they see the process and there is a needle involved.

All of this can be a little scary for some kids (and adults) but it’s especially important for everyone six months and older to receive their flu vaccine. This is because while everyone is susceptible to flu, it is especially dangerous for children younger than five, and especially those younger than two. A past study shows that flu vaccination significantly reduces a child’s risk of dying from influenza.

With a few tried-and-true tips, you can help your child begin to overcome any hesitation.

Set an Example: Schedule your flu vaccine at the same time as your kids. This way, they can watch you or you can talk them through what is happening. If you can’t go at the same time, going before your child can still help, as you can speak to your experience afterwards and show them your band-aid and how you feel just fine. Seeing how calm you are can help with some of the anxiety.

Distractions: This can be done in many ways but bringing a ‘stuffy’ or another loved toy can bring comfort to a scary situation. You can also try watching their favorite show or movie on a phone/tablet to distract them from what is happening, too. We even have a game they can play that is both educational and provides a distraction. Or, a good old game of ‘I Spy’ may do the trick – really anything to take the focus away from the shot can really help.

Role Play and Explain The Process: If you have a younger child, having them act out the visit and giving you a pretend shot can help prepare them for the appointment. You can explain to them, step-by-step, what will happen – from the alcohol swab to picking out a fun band-aid – this will help them feel in control of the situation. Also, don’t be afraid to say that the shot pinched (or even give them a small pinch so they know how it feels); this can help kids prepare for a slight discomfort but also understand that it is very quick!

Rewards for Bravery: Getting vaccines can be scary, so why not reward your kids for their bravery? You can download our coloring book or reward them with a small gift. Something as simple as a sticker or lollipop can go a long way.

Celebrate! Since we know this is not a one-and-done situation, make plans to do something special as a family after the vaccination. Whether it is going out to eat, playing in the park or another fun activity, this will create something to look forward to and also, make a fun tradition post-vaccine.

If a child is still afraid, there is an option of a nasal spray flu vaccine, which is sprayed up the nose as opposed to being injected with a needle. Some people do not qualify for the nasal spray vaccine, however, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about this possible route.

With these tips and preparations, you will hopefully have a flu superhero on your hands in no time!

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