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Preparing for Vaccine Administration

It is understandable that preparing for childhood vaccines can be overwhelming to families. There is a lot of knowledge, research, and decision making before, during, and after the vaccination. Below are some vital tips to share with families on what to expect and how to prepare for administration of vaccines.

Click on the timeframes below for some helpful tips and tools to share with families preparing for vaccine administration.

  • Ensure the family is knowledgeable about the vaccine the child is getting. Using this toolkit along with resources provided, will help the family to feel more confident about that visit.

    • Get a list of vaccines needed during the visit.
      • Reference this quick assessment tool143 to determine what vaccines needed at the next doctor’s visit.142
    • Learn more about the benefits and risk of vaccines
      • Refer to General Vaccine Information webpage within this toolkit for links and resources142
    • Print off or bring to the appointment, the child’s up-to-date immunization record
      • Refer to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR)142 webpage within this toolkit
    • Be ready to support the child during the vaccine visit.142
      • Pack their favorite toy/book/blanket/item to help comfort them during vaccination
    • If age appropriate, discuss the visit with the child so they know what to realistically expect during the visit.142
      • Be honest
        • explain that the shot can feel like a pinch or sting, but won’t hurt for long
      • avoid telling scary stories or making threats about not vaccinating
      • Remind them that shots are to help keep them healthy
    • Ensure the child is healthy enough for the vaccine142
      • A mild illness is usually not a reason to reschedule a vaccination visit, but to learn more abut vaccines when the child is sick- visit the CDC website 144
  • Depending on the age of the child, each visit can look a little different.

    For more tips on how to make shots less stressful- visit CDC: 9 Things You Can Do for You and Your Baby.145

    For babies and younger children:

    • Distract and comfort by cuddling, singing, or talking softly142
    • Smile and make eye contact with the child while vaccinating142
    • Vocalize that everything will be ok142
    • Hold the child firm on the lap, whenever possible142
      • For exact hold types visit the CDC- How to Hold During Vaccination146
    • Once the child has received all the vaccinations for that day, be especially supportive!412
      • Snuggle the child with a soothing voice combined with praise and hugs
      • Infants can be breastfed, bottle fed or held skin-to-skin immediately after vaccination
      • If the infant is older than 6 months, a sweet beverage can be given

    For older children and adolescents:

    • Point out interesting things in the room for distraction142142
    • Tell or read stories142
    • Support them if they are scared or cry142
    • NEVER scold for "not behaving"142
    • Practice deep breathing exercises with them142
    • Once the child has received all the vaccinations for that day, be especially supportive142
      • Praise them
      • Offer treat-when acceptable

    * It is important to note that fainting can be common among adolescents. To help prevent any injuries, ensure vocalization with the teen throughout the process as well as the assessment throughout.

    Before leaving the clinic, it is important to schedule future visits for vaccinations!

  • Sometimes children experience mild reactions from shots, such as pain at the injection site, a rash, or a fever. These reactions are normal and will soon go away- Refer to General Vaccine Information: Common Side Effects.84 webpage within this toolkit.

    To help minimize mild side effects, see the tips below:

    • Stay at the clinic for at least 15 minutes following vaccination to ensure no adverse reactions will occur142
    • Read and understand the Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) for the vaccine administered142
    • Use a cool, damp cloth to help reduce redness, soreness and/or swelling and the injection site142
    • Reduce fever with a lukewarm sponge bath as necessary142
    • Offer liquids frequently142
      • It is normal that some children have a decreased appetite for up to 24 hours after vaccination
    • Ask the provider about pain relief medication approved (non-aspirin based)142
    • Pay special attention to behavior of the child for the next few days142
      • If anything seems concerning, call the doctor