Doctor shares how to support your child in a Covid-19 vaccination

Photo illustration from Sussex Travel Clinic

By Dr. Lindsay Ragsdale
University of Kentucky

If you have with children under the age of 5, you may be now looking to bring your child to a vaccination clinic to receive the Covid-19 vaccine following the recent emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and the recommendation from the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the two vaccines authorized for children ages 6 months to 5 years old. The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose series separated by 28 days and the Pfizer vaccine is a three-dose series separated by 21 days and 60 days, respectively. At many clinics, parents will be offered the choice of either Moderna or Pfizer for their child.

Here are some helpful tips to support your child before and during COVID-19 vaccination:

  • Be honest and calm. Talk to your child in simple terms before vaccination about where the shot will go, and what they can expect to feel when receiving a shot.
  • Role-play before the appointment. Planning and practicing what exactly will happen can help reduce fear in children who may be afraid of needles.
  • Bring items that comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket, toy or book.
  • Distract your child. Bringing your child’s attention away from the professional administering the shot can help relieve stress and lessen fear.
  • Ask your doctor for a numbing cream or spray.
  • Ask your child to sit or lay down during vaccination to prevent fainting. Younger children can also be held in recommended ways that gives comfort and support.

After your child receives the Covid-19 vaccine, it is important to stay for 15 to 30 minutes so your child can be observed in case they have a severe allergic reaction. You can ask your child’s health care provider for steps you can take at home to relieve pain and comfort your child after vaccination. Also, make sure that your child receives their Covid-19 Vaccination Record card before leaving the clinic.

Mild reactions, such as some pain and swelling where the shot was administered, or a fever are common symptoms. If any occurring symptom after the vaccination concerns you, contact your child’s doctor.

For families who are undecided about the Covid-19 vaccination for younger children, we encourage open conversations with their pediatrician or primary care provider. More information can be found at the CDC website and American Academy of Pediatrics website.

Lindsay Ragsdale, M.D., is chief medical officer for Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
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