Supporting Your School-age Child Before, During and After COVID-19 Vaccination
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You may have questions about what the COVID-19 vaccination process will look like for your school-aged child.
CHOP’s child life specialists, in partnership with the Vaccine Education Center, have prepared the following guidance, suggested language and strategies to help you best support your child throughout their vaccination experience.
Often, withholding information from children can create worry, since what they imagine can be worse than reality. One way to prepare your child is to provide honest, simple information. When talking about the upcoming vaccine appointment, choose a familiar environment and a time of day when you are both able to be fully present in the conversation.
Here are some common questions, as well as suggested responses:
Vaccines prepare our bodies for germs (OR viruses/bacteria) that can make us sick. If we come into contact with those germs later, our body is ready to protect us, so we don’t get as sick. The vaccine you are going to get will teach your body about COVID-19.
Some kids say it feels like a quick poke or pinch. Afterwards, maybe you could tell me what it felt like for you.
Everyone responds to vaccines differently. Some people have side effects afterward, like a sore arm or tiredness, but others don’t. If you do feel symptoms, remember that they do not last long (maybe a day or two) and they mean your body is responding to the vaccine.
Regardless of how your child responds, validate how they are feeling. Here are three common reactions a child may have and suggested strategies for addressing each one:
When children are able to participate in their own care, they often feel a sense of control. If your child appears anxious about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, talk about what has helped them cope previously and what could help in this situation. You can also review these tips for coping with healthcare procedures.
Some additional suggestions that you and your child can talk about or practice together include:
You know your child best, so it is important to communicate your child’s individual needs to the vaccine team. If your child is able to and feels comfortable, encourage them to share what will help during the vaccine. Some examples of what you and your child may want to discuss include:
If your child becomes upset or agitated during the vaccination appointment, provide suggestions on how to help calm your child (e.g., validate their concerns, offer a break, acknowledge efforts, etc.). If your child has a history of physical aggression during healthcare encounters (e.g., hitting, biting, kicking), please let the vaccination team know.