Tips to comfort your kid's needle nervousness before the COVID-19 shot
As children aged five to 11 prepare to roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine, one obstacle between now and normalcy, is overcoming any fear of needles.
“It looks kind of dangerous,” 10-year-old Cohen Goyette told CTV News in an interview Monday about needles. “But I know what it can do, it can help me.”
Goyette isn’t afraid of other common phobias like spiders or snakes and plans to get the shot along with his siblings. Despite that, he says he’ll still be nervous about it.
“When I took him to get his last flu shot, he actually ended up kicking the pharmacist in the stomach,” said his mom Maria Isenor.
“I’m still scared about it,” he said.
Dr. Christine Chambers said a fear of needles is common in kids and adults, although adults don’t like to talk about it. The Dalhousie Professor’s advice to parents is to openly communicate with their child that a needle will be necessary and before, and during the appointment, find a way to help distract your child.
“I always bring my iPhone to doctors’ appointments with my kids so they can watch Youtube videos or play a video game,” she said. “Research shows that distraction really, really works when it comes to supporting kids with vaccination.”
Chambers notes relaxation is also key. She recommends helping kids take some deep breaths.
“Blow some bubbles. Relax their muscles like spaghetti noodles,” she said.
Chambers also suggests providing some kind of incentive like a small treat, or something to look forward to afterward.
In Nova Scotia, pharmacists will be tasked with vaccinating children. Pharmacists are already used to administering flu shots and understand different patients have different needs.
“We treat it, every child differently, every patient differently because we’ve seen needle phobias in every age as we’re going through this,” said Diane Harpell with the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia.
Harpell said some kids bring in a stuffed toy for comfort, while others are confident about it and don’t need any reassurances. She also notes kids feed off the parent’s energy.
“If you’re nervous about it, they’re going to nervous about,” she said. “But if you’re nervous, just tell them you are and just say, 'It’s okay to be nervous.'"
Goyette has some advice for others who might also be nervous.
“Maybe try to think of it as something not something so bad,” he said. “Because the COVID vaccine will most likely save your life for having it and other people like your family. Your friends.”