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How do I help prepare my child for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Families/Kids Vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccine is almost here for children age 5 and up! How do I help prepare my child for the vaccine?

A: Hooray! An FDA advisory panel has recommended the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children age 5 to 11 and the US will hopefully see final authorization from the CDC and FDA next week.

Now is a great time to start preparing for children to get vaccinated. Talking to kiddos about vaccination can help them feel safe and ready for their vaccine. Below are a few tips to help you have this convo with the kids in your life.

🎓First up, educate yourself. If you are prepared and confident, your kiddos will feel more prepared and confident too! The US CDC has some great info for parents and adults about vaccines and the American Academy of Pediatrics has info specifically about the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

📣Talk about vaccines with your children. Make this a normal part of health and nothing to be afraid of. Show them this can be a positive experience.

➡Tell the truth, shots hurt. We want to be honest with our children and let them know that yes, it will hurt a little. The pain goes away quickly and can be treated with medicines if needed. Saying that a shot won’t hurt damages their trust and makes the experience more difficult for everyone.

💯Talk about how important vaccines are. Our bodies are super cool and do a great job keeping us safe from germs. Sometimes, though, our bodies need help! Vaccines teach our bodies how to fight those bad guy germs and help keep us from getting sick. If we aren’t sick, we can’t make other people sick and that helps protect the people we love from being sick too. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is an important way to keep everyone healthy and safe.

❓Encourage questions. Kids are full of questions and encouraging them to ask their questions can help them feel good about getting vaccines. They may ask a question you don’t know the answer to, and that’s ok! This is a great opportunity to role model lifelong learning and look up new information together.

❤️Validate their feelings. Being scared before a vaccine is normal. Letting them know it is ok to be scared and that you will help them through it can ease some nerves.

🥰Use techniques to minimize pain and discomfort. Some commonly used strategies are being held or touched during vaccination by a loved one, distraction, and deep breathing.

👏Praise their bravery and reward vaccination. Children look to the adults in their lives to figure out how to react to something. If you react positively (You did great! You are so brave! Your immune system is going to kick some germ butt!), your kids will react positively too! Be careful never to make vaccines a threat or a punishment (for example, “If you don’t behave, you will get a shot today”). Remind kids that it is ok to cry if it hurt. Crying is a normal response to pain. Offer rewards for getting their vaccines, like time together doing a fun activity, a new book, or stickers.
Medical offices, pharmacies, and community organizations are getting prepped to vaccinate children as young as 5 years old once the COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for this age group. Talk with your healthcare team about any questions you might have. While you are at it, make sure you, your kiddos, and all of your friends and family are up to date on all of their vaccines too! 😊

Stay safe. Stay sane. And we can’t wait for vaccines for kids 5-11!

Those Nerdy Girls

Links:

AAP Getting Your Child Ready for the COVID-19 vaccine

AAP Taking the Fear Out of Needles

National Geographic Article on Talking to Kids About Vaccines

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