With a COVID-19 vaccine now approved for use in children from five to 11 years old, parents may be wondering how best to prepare their kids for receiving the vaccine.
A health-care worker who helps kids as they go through medical procedures says it comes down to making a plan with your child.
“The more opportunity kids have to think through what they’re going to experience, the better they will cope with it,” said Dominique Rust, manager of the child life program at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon.
Rust pointed out that medical procedures often “just happen” to children. So any opportunity to have kids be part of their treatment plans, procedures and tests will lead to a better, more positive experience, Rust said.
“Just know that with good preparation and talking about things and being prepared, your child will be successful.”
Rust said you should outline everything that your child will see, hear, smell and feel. She suggests that parents make a coping plan with their child before heading to the clinic or appointment.
That coping plan can include where your child wants to receive their vaccine — as different clinic options will be available — how they want to sit when they receive it and what sort of distraction they may want. That can include toys, singing a song, doing deep breathing, or watching a video on a phone or tablet.
Rust also said that being honest with your child about what’s going to happen to them is best, as not telling them where they’re going can lead to mistrust.
Important to validate kids’ concerns, doctor says
Kids may have questions about the vaccine, and Dr. Ayisha Kurji said it’s important to validate concerns.
“This is still their body, and it’s really important that we, A) make sure they feel comfortable and safe with what’s going on in their body, but B) also set them up for trust in the health-care system as we go forward,” said Kurji, an associate professor of pediatrics with the University of Saskatchewan.
Kurji suggested that parents look up the answers to their children’s questions with them, or that those questions be put to the child’s doctor to “get answers from the person we’ve trusted with our health all along.”
We put some common questions kids and parents may have to Kurji in a series of videos you can view below:
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