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Young girl getting a vaccine

Tear-Free Vaccination Tips for Kids

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Douglas Mitchell
Published Date: Monday, June 29, 2020

By Dr. Douglas Mitchell, Norfolk Pediatrics

During the shelter-in-place order to slow the spread of COVID-19, many children fell behind on their scheduled vaccinations for diseases like measles and whooping cough.

The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that up to 40 percent of children scheduled for vaccinations in recent months have missed them, a number that increases to 80 percent if you include teens who need HPV vaccines.

Now that restrictions are easing, and many children are out of school for the summer, it’s a good time to get them back on track.

It’s most critical to make sure children 2 and under have received their vaccinations. As social distancing requirements are relaxed across the country, children who are not protected by vaccines will be more vulnerable to diseases such as measles, chicken pox, and whooping cough.

CHKD has many safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as screening patients, their caregivers, and staff for COVID-19 symptoms; separating patients coming in for well visits from those who are sick; and social distancing in our facilities. Face coverings are also required for anyone entering a CHKD facility. Children under age 3, or those who are not developmentally or medically able to wear a mask, are exempt.

Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to keep kids calm during vaccinations:

  • Don’t make promises for “no shots” when you are going to the doctor’s office. If you make that promise and break it, trust is broken.
  • Fear of needles is real so validate your children when they say they are scared. Never describe shots as punishment or use them as a threat.
  • For babies who are nursing, breastfeeding during a vaccination can provide significant pain relief. Sucking on a pacifier can also be comforting.
  • Hold young children on your lap and soothe and stroke them during the immunization. Then rock them afterward to decrease crying.
  • Distract older children during and after each shot. Try “blowing away the pain” or use soap bubbles, pinwheels, or music to divert their attention. Tell them stories or read books. Some older children feel better hugging their parent, chest to chest, when the shot is given. If your doctor believes it is appropriate, let your older kids choose the site of the injections, giving them a sense that they have a degree of control over the process.
  • Afterward, if a mild fever develops, ask your doctor about giving your children acetaminophen to make them more comfortable. It is very rare for side effects to be serious; however, you should call your children’s doctor if you have any concerns after a vaccine.

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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.