English: A Somali boy receives a polio vaccina...
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Vaccinations are probably one of the toughest parts of childhood: for the kids and the parents. I still remember crying during my son’s first shot. Yet, there are some steps you can take to minimize the inevitable vaccine fears, including going to places like Minute Clinic.

Newborn-18 months.

At this point, there is nothing you can communicate to your child to prepare them for a vaccine visit. Language skills & cognitive understanding are still developing. However, ignorance is bliss at this age, so there is no pre-appointment fear. Yet, there are things we can do after the fact to minimize discomfort & prevent future phobias from potentially developing.

  1. Have a bottle, pacifier or breast ready. Immediately after the shot, hold your baby and offer one of these soothing & calming distractions. Some doctors will allow you to nurse your baby as the shot occurs – just ask.
  2. You can also give a small dose of Tylenol (per the manufacturer recommendations) an hour before the visit to lesson any pain. However, talk to your child’s pediatrician beforehand.
  3. Be upbeat and not fearful yourself. Children can pick up on your anxiety and make it their own. So put on a happy face!

18 months to 3 years old.

This is a tough time. Your child has figured that the doctor’s office is not all stickers and lollipops. They are old enough to fear the needle, but too young for incentives, and soothing techniques rarely work.

  1. To prevent excess agitation, don’t talk up the visit in advance.
  2. Bring a favorite lovey or stuffed animal. Have the nurse put a Band-Aid on a doll for some role-playing. If Teddy Bear has a Band-Aid, your child may be willing to get one too.
  3. Have a small toy or book on hand to give to your child right before the shot to provide a distraction.

3 years and older. 

If your child still has shot-phobia, the best scenario is to offer incentives.

  1. Perhaps offer a favorite outing after the vaccine visit? Or a trip for ice cream or a new toy?
  2. If you find that the fear is greater than it needs to be, it may be worth speaking to your pediatrician about a therapy session with a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Sometimes it can be something simple as changing the location. If your pediatrician’s office causes anxiety, consider an alternative location, like Minute Clinic (within a variety of CVS locations.) With board certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants, Minute Clinic staff can provide a safe environment for your child’s vaccination (or yours!) If you don’t have insurance, their rates are reasonable too.

What makes Minute Clinic a great vaccination location contender is the fact that after getting the shot, you just need to take a walk down the CVS aisle for a piece of candy, some new pencils, a new coloring book or other treat, to conclude a non-dramatic vaccine visit.

What ideas do you have for making your child happy during a vaccination? What has worked for your family?

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