National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder children need vaccines right from the start.
Vaccines help protect babies and young children against 14 serious diseases before their 2nd birthday. Even though you are keeping them safe from diseases, it’s hard to see your children cry when they receive their 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.
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.”
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 shots help keep them healthy.
Distract your child with a toy, a story, a song or something interesting in the room. Make eye contact with your child and smile, talk softly or sing. If you can, hold your child tightly on your lap. Take deep breaths with an older child to help “blow out” the pain.
After the shot, hug, cuddle and praise your child. For babies, swaddling, breastfeeding or offering a bottle may offer quick relief. Comfort and reassure older children if they cry.
If you notice redness, soreness or swelling from the shot, place a clean, cool washcloth on the area. These reactions are usually mild and resolve on their own without needing treatment. If your child runs a fever, try a cool sponge bath.
You can also use a non-aspirin pain reliever if your doctor says it’s OK. Some children eat less, sleep more or act fussy for a day after they get shots. Make sure your child gets plenty to drink. If you’re worried about anything, call your doctor.
“Remember,” added Dr. Robinson, “keeping your child up to date on vaccines is the best way to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Learn more about childhood vaccines at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents or call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).