As the fall season roles in so does the time for flu vaccinations. This is an especially fun subject for parents as we may not enjoy flu shots ourselves but watching our little ones get them is even worse. This year we cannot turn to the FluMist as it has been taken off the table as an option, as it turns out this less painful option is also less effective.
In New Jersey the law requires that children in child care services receive the influenza vaccination if they are between the ages of 6 months and 59 months old, but highly recommends it for every child over the age of 6 months. If you want to read an article specific to this point this one published by the New York Times makes some good points.
So what is the recommended way for parents to help their children through the vaccination experience?
The number one answer is distraction.
10 Distraction Tactics
- Have your child blow bubbles
- Read a story
- Sing a song together
- Have your child count backwards from 10
- Talk about shapes and colors on the wall or in books
- Bring an Ipad or Tablet with games or movies for the child
- Bring a sucker for the child to have while they are getting a shot instead of waiting until after
- For babies, feed them a bottle or breastfeed while the nurse administers the shot
- Have a toy such as a pinwheel that a child can play with using only one hand
- Ask them to talk about their favorite things such as animals
These distraction techniques have supportably been shown to be much more effective than trying to reassure a child it will be ok or won’t hurt. Instead try being honest with the child that they are getting a shot and there may be a pinch for a second then it will go away, then proceed to distract. The doctor and nurses should be helpful and honest also, and with a combination of using less painful and quicker techniques the experience should be no problem at all. For those who are anxious about it can request topical numbing agents to help.