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Throughout my training career, vaccinating children, is one of the areas that scares health care professionals the most! Why, you ask, because no one wants to be the nasty person injecting a child, and children can cry and shout, loudly and wriggle (a lot!).

What tips and tools can we give you for vaccinating children?

Work with parent or guardian, where possible ask them to dress the child in loose fitting clothing that is easy to remove. Encourage the adult to be calm and collected, it is amazing the difference it can have on a child’s behaviour, if the adult is anxious and upset, then it is very likely that this will lead to the child being anxious and frightened.  Discuss how you would like the adult to hold and position the child, which will ensure the administration of the injection is safe and swift.

Distraction techniques are key, talk to the child about things they find fun, anything they watch on TV, a book they like to read, favourite computer game, and so on. Have the child looking in another direction so they can’t see the needle, it maybe watching a tv programme or a book to distract them from the injection.

Although distraction can help to keep the child’s focus somewhere else, it is still vitally important to be open and honest with a child, to inform them they may feel a pinch, but that it will only last for a short period of time.

Children and siblings, usually preferable for the older sibling to go first, as they tend to like to “show” their younger sibling how brave they are.  It may sound silly, however, make sure you identify the correct child, that requires the vaccine, especially with similar aged siblings or twins, it may be an idea to give different coloured stickers prior to injection. Remember to praise all children and give them a reward, kids really like stickers, make a fuss about how these stickers are great and that the child can choose which one they would like after they have had their injection.#

Prior to the vaccination, make sure the child is eligible and has no contraindications to the vaccine. Consideration of the child’s age and vaccination history is important, because, if the child is under 9 years old and has a long-term health condition, if they have never had the flu vaccine previously, then they will require a second dose. These are normally given 4 weeks apart.

Once you have given the vaccination, make sure your sharps bin is close to hand, but safe from the wondering hands of the child and or their siblings.

You will want to monitor the child after vaccination for any signs of an adverse reaction, so ensure the adult is aware of this and consents, prior to vaccination. It is essential to give post vaccination information to the adult, so they know what to expect and how to deal with any side effects, reiterate the importance of reading the patient information leaflet.

Children positioning and injection technique is discussed in ECG vaccination training

Written by Lisa Humble ( ECG Clinical Development Manager), Friday 25/09/2020