There Are Ways to Make Your Child’s Shots Less Stressful

LaDonna White, RN, MSN
Nurse Consultant
Immunization Division

Vaccines help protect babies and young children against 14 serious diseases before their 2nd birthday. Even though you are keeping her safe from diseases, it’s hard to see your child cry when she gets her shots. But you can take some steps before, during and after a vaccine visit to ease the short-term pain and stress of getting shots.

That’s where parents come in: What you say and do before, during and after their immunization appointment can help calm a child, allay their fears and make the immunization visit less stressful on you both.

Read about the shots your child will get in advance. “CDC has a lot of useful information to help parents understand the importance of on-time vaccination,” said Dr. Candice Robinson, a pediatrician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “You can review this information before your appointment, and then, you can ask your child’s doctor any remaining questions you have about vaccines.” The more informed you are about vaccinations, the better you may feel.

You may also want to bring your child’s vaccine record to show the doctor, and pack a favorite toy, book, blanket or other comfort item to keep your child occupied at the visit. For older children, shots can pinch or sting, but not for long. Remind them that shots help keep them healthy.

The CDC suggests trying the following tips during the vaccine visit to support your child before, during and after shots:

For babies and younger children

  • Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing or talking softly.
  • Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is OK.
  • Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible.

For older children and adolescents

  • Take deep breaths with your child to help “blow out” the pain.
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions.
  • Tell or read stories. Remember to pack their favorite book!
  • Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold a child for not “being brave.”

For more information about how to make the immunization visit less stressful, go to cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/visit   

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