Four simple steps to decrease your kids' anxiety about getting COVID-19 shots


Now that the Pfizer's COVID-19 shots have been approved for Americans as young as 12, are you planning on getting your kids vaccinated?

There are ways to help prepare children, even if they’re not fans of needles.

Kids now account for about one-fifth of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf, professor of pediatrics at UCSF, told KCBS Radio’s "As Prescribed" on Thursday that it’s important for them to be vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

"They may infect people who got an organ transplant down the street and who can’t get vaccinated," he explained. "They may infect friends who had a cancer disease or another immunologic disease, so they cannot get vaccinated."

But more people than you might think are just too plain scared to do it.

"It’s surprisingly common," he said. "So more than one out of four adults in the United States has significant fear of needles."

That fear usually starts at childhood.

So to make your kids more comfortable, Dr. Friedrichsdorf suggested an over-the-counter numbing cream, plus age-appropriate distractions. He advised to never hold a child down for shots and create a positive memory afterwards.

"If you do all those four things, I promise you that you either will not have any pain or at least will decrease it significantly," he added.

Four simple steps to decrease pain and anxiety caused by vaccinations, as provided by Dr. Friedrichsdorf:

Step 1
Administer 4% Lidocain cream at least 30 minutes before vaccination. Cream available over-the-counter in drugstores, pharmacies or online. Cover with transparent medical dressing or cling wrap. Check with clinician regarding exact location of vaccination (usually upper leg for infants less 12 months, upper arm children > 1 year); Cover about a quarter-size area of skin.

Step 2
Comfort Positioning: upright. Do NOT hold children down. Babies younger than 6 months: Swaddling or skin-to-skin contact with parent. Older children: vaccinate on parent’s lap. Teens may choose to sit on care-giver’s lap, or next to, or alone. Let it be their choice.

Step 3
Age-Appropriate Distraction. Examples include: LED Changing Pattern Spinner Wand, bubbles, pin-wheels, I-spy books, apps. Do NOT say "I am sorry," or "It will be over soon." Instead use humor and distract with positive memories.

Step 4
For Babies 0-12 Months: Breastfeeding or few drops of sugar water (24% sucrose) during vaccination. For Children: Create positive memory. Praise right after vaccination and again at home. Telling them how well they did, and how it only “bothered” them for such a short time (if it did) helps them to create a positive memory and being less afraid the next time.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Andre Coelho/Getty Images