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COVID-19 Vaccine for Children: How to Prepare Your Kids

Nov 02, 2021
Little girl wearing a mask with a band-aid on her arm, giving a thumbs up.

Parents often have conversations with their kids about getting “shots.” We let them know it might hurt a little, or that it will help protect them from getting sick. (You may offer a little reward for being brave, too).

But because of all of the news and conversation about the COVID-19 vaccine, young children may have extra questions or worries.

Now that the vaccine is authorized for children 5-11 years old, it might be time to have a conversation with your kids about what the vaccine is, how getting it could make them feel, and why it’s important.

Here are a few tips for having that conversation:

Ask what they’ve heard and answer their questions honestly.

Children are always listening. It’s important for you to understand how they understand COVID-19 and the vaccine. This blog post about COVID-19 vaccine myths may help you answer their questions.

Explain what vaccines are and why they are helpful.

One of the lessons of the last year is that even some adults don’t fully understand vaccines. This blog post can help you talk to your children about them (and clear up any confusion).

Focus on health, not the shot itself.

While the biggest concern for young children might be that initial poke, the larger message should be that the COVID-19 vaccine can help protect them, and others, from a more serious illness.

Be honest about how the vaccine could make them feel.

There are some minor side effects that were reported in trials of younger children, similar to what adults and older children have experienced. Mild or moderate injection site pain, fatigue and headache were the most common.

Make a plan for coping.

Receiving medical care can bring up a variety of emotions for people, so being prepared to support your child’s emotional safety is important. Allowing the child to have control by watching or not watching, providing comfort through physical touch, and having items for distraction can help your child be successful.

You know your children best, but these tips are a good place to start. Offering a reward for being brave isn’t a bad idea either!

Nationwide Children’s has more information for you and your children about COVID-19 and the vaccine.
Learn More

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Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Donna M. Trentel, MSA, CCLS
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Donna M. Trentel, MSA, CCLS, is the director of Family and Volunteer Services at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.