Making Flu Shots As Painless As Possible For Children

Shots can be traumatic for children and parents- experts offer tips to make it easier

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With the CDC not recommending the flu mist this year, shots are the best option for protection children from the flu. There are a lot of ways to distract kids of all ages to make the process of getting the flu shot easier, both for children and their parents.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are recommending against the flu mist this year for children, because it will not protect against most strains of the virus. That means children will need to get shots in order to protect them from the flu, something many children and parents dread. But pediatricians at Nationwide Children’s Hospital have some tips to make the process easier on everyone.

“It’s not uncommon for a child to feel anxious or scared when it’s time to get a shot. We want to do our best to minimize that so it’s a good experience for the child and the family,” said Dr. Melissa Winterhalter, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “We never do sneak attacks, or hold kids down. If they’re really upset or crying, we stop and talk with them and try to calm them down.”

Different distraction techniques work well for different age groups. For infants, swaddling or dipping a pacifier in sugar water often works well. Toddlers and young children are often distracted with books, toys, or tablets, while older children want to be a part of the process and learn why it is important to receive the flu shot. A bee the staff is using at Nationwide Children’s has cold pack wings and a buzzing body that attaches to a child’s arm and helps take the sting out of getting a shot.

“It sort of scrambles the pain response that your body feels so you feel the cold or the buzzing and not necessarily the pain from the injection,” said Winterhalter.

Parents should work with their pediatricians to find what works best for their child and develop a team approach to giving shots.

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With the CDC not recommending the flu mist this year, shots are the best option for protection children from the flu. There are a lot of ways to distract kids of all ages to make the process of getting the flu shot easier, both for children and their parents.

Dr. Melissa Winterhalter, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children`s Hospital, speaks with a nine-year-old patient. She says explaining why the flu shot is important to their health makes kids feel like part of the process and helps calm their anxiety.

This buzzing bee is one tool used at Nationwide Children`s Center to make flu shots less painful. The cold pack wings and buzzing body lessens how much patients feel the prick of the needle.