How to prepare your child for their first COVID-19 shot

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FILE – Jamie Onofrio Franceschini, 11, watches as RN Rosemary Lantigua prepares a syringe with her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children five to 12 years at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Nov. 3, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. The United States is steadily chipping away at vaccine hesitancy and driving down COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to the point that schools, governments and corporations are lifting mask restrictions yet again. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

(Baptist Health) – The COVID-19 vaccine is now available for children ages 5 to 11. For parents around the country, this is great news. But what if your child is nervous about getting their shot?

Here are four tips on how to prepare your child for their COVID-19 vaccine.

1. Talk about their vaccine visit in advance.

We all feel better about medical procedures when we know what to expect. Talk to your child about what happens at their vaccine appointment. Answer their questions honestly. Explain that they may feel a tiny amount of discomfort after the shot. And mention some of the common side effects.

2. Use comforting, positive language.

For younger children in particular, it’s important to let them know that it’s OK to feel nervous. Focusing on the positives when talking about the vaccine can also help. Tell younger kids that it’s important to get their shot because it helps keep them, their friends and their family healthy.

3. Find ways to manage anxiety on the day.

Many kids are anxious on the day of their shot. Try to make a plan for how to handle vaccine day worries. Younger children may want to bring a favorite stuffed animal. Older kids might like the distraction of a video or game. Deep, calming breaths can also help—and you can practice them in advance.

4. Plan a special treat for afterward.

Planning a reward can help children manage vaccine nerves. You know your child best. So organize something for them to look forward to. This could involve going somewhere special or spending quality time with loved ones.

After your child’s first vaccine visit, be sure to schedule their second dose with your vaccine clinic, primary care provider or pharmacist.

Find more information on COVID-19 vaccines in our Coronavirus health topic center.

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