Scott Gavura makes the case for a less painful immunization experience:
As much as I support vaccines, I see the short term consequences. Vaccines can be painful. Kids don’t like them, and parents don’t like seeing their children suffer. That this transient pain is the most common consequence of gaining protection from fatal illnesses seems like a fair trade-off to me. But that’s not the case for every parent.
By taking steps to reduce vaccine pain we can improve vaccine acceptance, completion of the vaccination schedule, and overall improvements in public health outcomes.
Yesterday we looked at minimizing the pain of administering vaccines to infants. Today we try to decrease the “owwee” for older kids. Here are some important recommendations based on a review article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2010:
• Tell your child about the immunization. Use a matter-of-fact, supportive approach. Describe what will happen, why the vaccine will be given, and how it will feel. Tell young children (under 4 years old) about the immunization just before the procedure. Tell older children about the immunization at least 1 day before – it helps them to plan how they will cope.
• Answer your child’s questions. Be straight forward when answering your child’s questions and concerns. Here are some examples of how to answer your child’s questions about immunization:
Question: “What will happen?”
Answer: “You will get a medicine called a vaccine given in the arm/leg with a needle.”
Question: “Why is the vaccine given?”
Answer: “To keep you healthy.”
Question: “How will it feel?”
Answer: “There may be a pinch and some pushing or pressure that will last only a few seconds.”
• Do not apologize or give false reassurance. For example, don’t say “I am really sorry you have to go through this” or “It won’t hurt.”Why? Apologizing or giving false reassurance may make your child think that the injection will be worse than it is.
Bottom line: Always tell the truth.