Your child’s experience of getting vaccinated in their early years can affect how they feel and react to vaccinations in their later years. So reducing the likelihood of a negative experience is important but what can parents do to help prepare their child for the COVID-19 vaccine or other injections?
Fear or Phobia?
Most children are afraid of needles. But for some children, the fear is more severe and can be defined as a vaccine phobia.
Vaccine phobia is a very frightening or disturbing reaction to seeing a needle or getting it injected, for example, taking blood for a sample or an injection. Anxiety and fear are out of proportion to the danger and people will try to avoid getting needles as much as possible.
In severe cases, the anxiety caused by just looking at a needle can become so severe that it can cause feelings of dizziness, nausea, increased sweating, loss of consciousness, and fainting.
About one in five children aged four to six (19 percent) have a phobia of needles, and this decreases to one in nine (11 percent) by the age of 10-11 years. In adults, about 3.5–10 percent have needle phobia.
This fear in children can be caused by previous blood tests, injections and other medical procedures.
reduce the chance of negative experiences
When making an appointment for a vaccination, you may consider asking the nurse to take extra time to prepare. When babies come in for vaccinations, most nurses anticipate that the child may be anxious and nervous, or may be very afraid of the injection.
To prevent fainting, the nurse can help by asking the child to stretch and then release their muscles. They may suggest taking a deep breath, holding it, and exhaling slowly. They may also ask to move their toes to divert the child’s attention from the needle.
If the child is clearly showing distress – for example, yelling, kicking and saying they do not want to have the needle, the parent may postpone this so that the child has the opportunity to develop strategies to understand the process meet. This could potentially prevent needle phobia from developing.
Parents know their children best and know how to help them when they are vaccinated.
How can you prepare your child?
The first step is to consider when to inform your child about vaccines. For children under five, a shorter time frame works better; For example, preparing on the same day. Whereas for children five to six years old, you can tell them a day or two in advance and for children up to seven years old, you can tell them up to a week in advance.
If your child has a negative experience during vaccination, and you want to get professional help, ask your GP (General Practitioner) for suggestions from your local play therapist or child life therapist or child psychologists in your area.
(Judith Parson, Deakin University, The Conversation)
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