No one likes getting a shot, especially kids. Canadian children receive many injections throughout their infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and some may develop a strong fear of needles that can carry on into adulthood. In fact, it has been estimated that up to 25% of adults have a fear of needles, and many actually avoid vaccination procedures for themselves and their children.9
Fortunately, there are a number of things we can do as parents to help children cope with their fear so it doesn’t become a roadblock to their getting all the shots they need on time.
Talk Positively to Your Child about Vaccination
Your attitude towards vaccination is probably the most important tool you have to help your child if he or she is afraid of getting needles. If you are confident and positive about vaccinations, that will encourage your child. If they see that you are afraid or squeamish, their fear will intensify.10
Never tell your child that it won’t hurt. It will hurt, and you will have betrayed your child’s trust.11
The best way to approach the issue of pain with your child is to put it in perspective. Acknowledge that it will hurt a little bit when the needle goes in, but the doctor or nurse will do it very skilfully and quickly, and it will be over in no time. Agree with your child that needles are scary, but at the same time explain that not getting the shots would be much, much worse. Tell your child that vaccines make their bodies stronger so they can fight off diseases that could make them really sick.12
Finally, rewarding brave behaviour (or even just plain old endurance) is usually a good way to lessen post-shot misery.13
For more information about pain reduction techniques and potential reactions associated with vaccination, visit immunize.ca
9 Taddio A, Appleton M, Bortolussi R, et al. Reducing the pain of childhood vaccination: an evidence-based clinical practice guideline. CMAJ. Dec 2010;182:E843–E855.
10 City of Ottawa. Reducing Pain during Vaccination. ottawa.ca/en/residents/public-health/disease-and-medical-conditions/reducing-pain-during-vaccination. Accessed April 4, 2016.
11 Taddio A, Appleton M, Bortolussi R, et al. Reducing the pain of childhood vaccination: an evidence-based clinical practice guideline. CMAJ. Dec 2010;182:E843–E855.
12 Ontario Ministry of Health. Giving your child more than one vaccine at a time. http://www.tbdhu.com/NR/rdonlyres/1C67957C-4802-4E1B-A773-E20429FCA8FA/0/Givingyourchildmorethanonevaccineatatime_pamphlet.pdf. Accessed April 4, 2016.
13 City of Ottawa. Reducing Pain during Vaccination. ottawa.ca/en/residents/public-health/disease-and-medical-conditions/reducing-pain-during-vaccination. Accessed April 4, 2016.