Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available for children aged 5 to 11, parents across the country are making an appointment. But their kids may not be as excited as they are about two weeks apart. Jane Turner, professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development at the College of Human Medicine, offers some advice.
How can parents help their children who may be reluctant to injections understand the importance of the COVID-19 vaccination?
It is helpful for parents to explain to the child why they are getting the vaccine using words the child can understand, such as: “The vaccine will protect you against disease and keep you healthy. Older children can understand the concept of immunity: “It helps your body build immunity to fight infections. Most children are also happy to hear that they are doing something good for the community – for their friends and classmates.
The best source for advice on how to help your child is the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has a great website for parents.
For children who are afraid of needles and / or injections, what can parents say or do to help allay these fears?
- It is important for parents or caregivers to be calm and positive. Children understand parents’ anxieties and fears, so be sure to communicate that getting the vaccine is the right thing to do and that you will be okay.
- Choose your words carefully. Many children are terrified of gunfire and panic when they hear the word. You can say pinch or push or push or vaccination. Don’t mention the needle – it’s a scary word too.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings – don’t push them away. “I know it’s not fun and you care.” We’ll make a plan to make it easier for you, so you can stay in control.
- Do not apologize. You and your child are doing something right. Apologies are not necessary and suggest that you are doing something wrong or wrong. Keep the message positive.
- Explain why it is important to get the vaccine – we all do better when we understand why we need to do something.
- For suggestions on how to make a plan with your child to make the experience easier, go to Healthy Kids.
What types of side effects do children experience with the COVID-19 vaccine, and do these side effects match what adults have reported (fever, chills, body aches, etc. up to 24 hours after the vaccine) ?
The most common side effect in children is arm pain. Children may also experience fever, headaches, and fatigue, but these side effects seem to be less common in children than in adults. When I immunize children, I advise them to continue their usual activities, including going to school, unless they feel sick. I also advise them to move the arm where they received the vaccine and to drink plenty of fluids.
If so, should parents plan their child’s immunization dates based on things like athletic practices? and school when being sick can be problematic?
I recommend that parents schedule the vaccination for the earliest available date and not be overly concerned about side effects. The side effects are usually mild and the child can continue with normal activities. Maybe you should avoid getting the shot the night before a high-stakes school exam or football final playoffs.
Most young children do not have high stakes activities. Missing a workout for a sport or a day at school is insignificant compared to getting sick with COVID or giving it to others. With the holidays approaching and family reunions on the horizon, I recommend getting the vaccine as early as possible.
Likewise, should parents warn their children that they might feel bad after vaccination?
I think parents can tell children the truth about what to expect: “Your arm will likely be sore for a day or two, and you might feel tired and even have a fever. Don’t worry, you’ll be feeling better soon.
If a child feels unwell after vaccination, how should a parent explain these symptoms to them?
The explanation should be appropriate for the child’s age and understanding. For the youngest: “The vaccine works and helps your body be prepared to protect you against disease; you will feel better soon. For the older child: “Your body responds to the medicine in the vaccine and builds immunity to keep you from getting sick with COVID. ”