Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available for children 12 years of age and older, many pre-teens and teens are eager to sign up to be protected and return to normal activities.
But some pre-teens and teens are saying “not so fast.” If your child is hesitant to get the vaccine, here are five ways to talk to them about the vaccine, its benefits and how to prepare them for it.
Address any misinformation they may be hearing. Some common myths include the vaccine being approved too quickly, children not getting sick with COVID-19, and the vaccine causing infertility. Review some myths to bust with your child to help put their mind at ease. Help your child find accurate, up-to-date information from reliable news sources, rather than relying on social media or stories from friends.
Share with them why it’s important. While it’s true that kids aren’t getting COVID-19 at the same rate as adults, they can certainly get ill and even be hospitalized. It is still important for everyone who is eligible to be immunized to do so. Talk to your child about why getting the vaccine can help:
Return to traditional in-person school, sports and other extracurricular activities.
Get rid of mask-wearing requirements.
Protect loved ones by stopping the spread of the virus.
Reach herd immunity (herd immunity is when a large portion of the community becomes immune to a disease, either through vaccination or by having had the disease). Once enough of our population is immunized, the virus will have trouble spreading.
Make it a joint decision. Remember when you were a teenager and your parents told you to do something? It made you want to do the exact opposite, right? Listening to your child’s concerns and fears about the COVID-19 vaccine validates their feelings. Teaching them how to make important decisions, like getting a vaccine, is one of our most important jobs as parents.
Prepare them for the shot. One in five people is afraid of needles. For many, this is reason enough to bypass getting the COVID-19 vaccine. But following the 3 C’s (Communicate, Comfort, Calm) can help prepare your child. And, if your child receives the vaccine at our Nationwide Children’s Hospital vaccine clinic, Child Life is available to provide support for those who need it.
Communicate: Talk to your child about what to expect. For example, when they arrive for their vaccine, they may be asked to swap out their mask for a medical mask. They will be asked a few questions by a medical professional. Let them know that when they receive the shot, it may pinch or hurt, but this usually only lasts a few seconds. They will also need to stay at the vaccine clinic for 15 minutes after getting their shot to make sure they don’t have a reaction of any kind. Tell them that as of May 12, 2021 more than 263 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Comfort: Let your child know you are proud of them for making the decision to get vaccinated. Ask them how they are feeling after getting the shot.
Calm: Create a plan to do something fun after the vaccine.
Prepare them for its after-effects. Let your child know they may experience side effects, like body aches, fatigue (tiredness) and headache after getting the shot, but these symptoms typically only last one to two days. This is a sign that the vaccine is doing what it’s supposed to do, which is recognize the virus and fight it off. Due to limited data on the impact of pain relievers on antibody response, we do not recommend pre-medicating children with medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen before they receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, if kids experience symptoms such as fever, headache and injection site pain after the vaccine, use of either of these medications is appropriate as directed.
As parents, we strive to keep our children safe. The COVID-19 vaccine is just one way to do this. Click here to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for you and/or your child or to learn more about COVID-19 vaccine walk-in availability.
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