As parents, we tend to expect our little ones to be scared of immunizations. But what do we do when our older child is afraid of shots?
It is completely normal for older kids to be afraid of needles. Especially 11 year olds, they tend to be scared of 11 year vaccines just as much as a preschooler would be.
Today we are going to talk about how to help your older child overcome the fear of injections, and in many cases, make the shots not hurt at all.
Be honest– You child has likely received many injections in the past. They know it hurts. Just be honest, and remind them, that yes it hurts, but only for a second.
Consider how much notice you give your child- My five year old wants to know in advance if he is getting vaccines. He likes to role-play, choose what treat he is going to get, and talk about how he is going to handle getting shots. My twelve year old doesn’t like to know too far in advance because he says it ruins his entire week. He prefers to know the day of his appointment.
Start a new tradition- At our house shots = a visit to the bakery. So instead of being upset about vaccine time, we are busy deciding if we will get cookies or cupcakes. As an added bonus, mom gets cupcakes too. Win!
Make the shots hurt less- There are many different ways to decrease the pain of injections, and in some cases, make the shots not hurt at all. Here are a few techniques to make shots hurt less:
Use a shot blocker-The Shot Blocker creates tiny pressure points all around the injection site, thus confusing the brain. My twelve year old said he couldn’t feel his vaccine at all when we used the Shot Blocker. Our pediatrician was so impressed that he ordered several to use with his other patients. At under five bucks, the price is great, and you can keep it in your purse for when you need it.
Use numbing cream- Ask your pediatrician to prescribe Emla cream before your child’s visits. Emla is a topical anesthetic that numbs the skin. To use Emla, apply the cream to the injection site at least one hour before your child’s shots, and cover it with the waterproof dressing that is provided. After an hour, your child’s skin will be numb.
Many pediatricians don’t want to prescribe Emla because they think it isn’t worth the trouble, and children need to get used to injections. While I too, am usually for teaching children to deal with things head on, some kids are truly phobic of injections, and numbing creams are one of the many ways we can help these children to feel less anxious.
If your pediatrician will not prescribe Emla, you can still numb your child’s injection site by using UberNumb. UberNumb contains the highest level of lidocaine allowed over the counter. Most people use it before getting a tattoo, and it gets great reviews. You would use it in the same way as Emla. Apply and cover with a Tegaderm dressing until injection time.
*Please note that this post is for older children. While Emla is sometimes used on babies, do not use any over the counter numbing creams on your baby without your pediatrician’s approval. These creams are still absorbed into the skin, and may be harmful to small babies.
Use Buzzy! We have Buzzy at our house for my five year old and he loves it. He had to get five vaccines at his four year old visit and he said that it helped a lot. My twelve year old is “too old” to use our lady bug Buzzy, but now it comes in solid black for older kids and adults. Buzzy works by using cold (the wings are frozen) and intense (very intense) vibration. You place Buzzy above the injection site. The cold and vibration confuse the brain into not noticing the needle stick. We love Buzzy! Our neighbors have even borrowed it on occasion.
Try the Magic Glove- I am a big believer in hypnosis. I used Hypnobabies for my natural delivery. If it can get me through childbirth without pain, it can get your child through a vaccine. This is a great video demonstrating how the Magic Glove is used.
Lastly, decrease the number of vaccines your child gets- **This is purely my opinion. It is only worth what you paid for it.**
The CDC recommends that kids ages 11-12 receive the following vaccines:
HPV- All 11-12 year olds should (according to the CDC) get a 2-shot series of HPV vaccine at least 6 months apart. A 3-shot series is needed for those with weakened immune systems and those age 15 or older.
That comes up to 5 needle sticks (6 if you get the 3-shot HPV series). Our family knocks off the first three injections decreasing the number of sticks to two. My reasoning for MY family is this:
Meningococcal disease is easily spread, not easily prevented, and causes death in about 1 out of 10 cases. We give our children this vaccine.
We also give Tdap because tetanus is deadly and not easily prevented.
HPV can be prevented without a vaccine by choosing abstinence. I feel like that is a pretty easy choice for my young children, since they are not anywhere near the age of having a sexual relationship. It is my hope and prayer that they wait until they are married before having sex, but they can make this decision for themselves when they are much older than 11 years old.
Also, the HPV vaccine does not prevent all strains of HPV, so it is possible to be vaccinated, and still contract HPV. I find it mind blowing that this vaccine is recommended for kids as young as 9 years old.
We also pass on the flu vaccine. We opt for hand washing and avoiding crowds when possible. This is why…
Every single time I work, I speak to parents of kids who received the flu vaccine, and immediately became miserable with high fever and flu symptoms. I also speak with parents of kids who have confirmed influenza even though their entire family was vaccinated for flu.
In 2016, the flu vaccine was 42% effective, and it was only 34% effective for the most common strain. For 2014-2015 it was only 14% effective. This year isn’t looking much better than previous years. Preliminary estimates put this year’s vaccine at just 10% effective.
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