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Dr. Noel Offers Tips for Getting Children Vaccinated

School is starting and flu season is just weeks away. For parents girding themselves to get their children vaccinated, Dr. Natasha Noel of KSB Pediatric Center at Edwards Clinic in Dixon has some ideas for making the doctor’s visit easier on everyone.

“Letting the child know why they need vaccinations and how it will only feel like a pinch helps them cope,” said Dr. Noel. “It is best to be honest with your child. Explain that shots can pinch or sting, but that it won’t hurt for long.”

Preparing children for the experience can make the doctor visit easier on everyone, according to Dr. Noel. Getting other family members, especially older siblings, to support your child can make the experience easier. It is important to remind children that vaccines can keep them healthy, according to Dr. Noel.

Concerns about vaccinating children have arisen due to anti-vaccine websites and media attention to false claims about vaccine safety. “We are faced with a new challenge of educating parents about the importance of vaccination, benefits and risks of vaccination and vaccine safety,” Dr. Noel said.

Dr. Noel has some suggestions for parents with babies and younger children. “When dealing with babies and younger children, it is a good idea to distract and comfort them by cuddling, singing, or talking softly,” Dr. Noel said. “It helps if you smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is ok.”

Just bringing the child’s favorite toy, book or blanket when going in for a vaccination can make it easier for everyone. It helps the doctor when parents hold their smaller children in their lap.

Dr. Noel also has some advice for dealing with older children. “It can help if you take deep breaths with your child to help ‘blow out’ the pain,” Dr. Noel said. “You can distract a child by pointing out interesting things in the room.”

The other ideas include telling or reading stories. It is also a good idea to ask for advice on using non-aspirin pain relievers and other steps to help comfort a child. Parents may want to use a cold wet cloth to reduce redness, soreness and swelling.

“You want to support your child if he or she cries,” Dr. Neil said. “You never scold a child for not ‘being brave’.” At the end of the vaccinations, parents will want to remember to schedule their next visit for any further vaccines.

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