Government-supported health regulatory boards across the globe have different vaccine mandates regarding the immunization of children from birth to early adolescence. The recommended vaccines are designed to protect children from infectious diseases proven to be life-threatening or severely harmful to health. Without proper immunization, children become more susceptible to sicknesses that can stunt their growth and development, damage bodily systems, and result in fatality in extreme cases.
Pediatric vaccinations include several different vaccines to target various diseases. Some examples include:
Vaccines have been proven effective in protecting from serious ailments. However, some children may experience side effects after a vaccine is administered. For instance, a child may feel pain and discomfort around the area where the vaccine is injected. Some may also display mild fever-like symptoms.
While each child may respond differently to certain vaccinations and experience various side effects, most cases are mild enough to go away naturally without medical treatment. On the other hand, some reactions may be more adverse than others, requiring immediate medical intervention. One example of a severe side effect is nerve damage from vaccines, which happens on rare occasions but poses severe health risks to the afflicted.
As a parent, you may wonder what your child’s first vaccination would entail and how they view the experience. You may also want to know how to help your child prepare so you’ll have a safe and hassle-free vaccination experience.
If you’d like to know what to expect when your child gets a vaccine, here are some points you may find helpful:
One of the critical steps in getting your child ready for vaccination is knowing about the vaccines recommended for their age range. Depending on government regulations in your area, your health ministry may provide parents with a list of vaccines that their child can get based on age. Once you identify the recommended vaccines, you can do your research about each and make notes on their impact on your child’s health. You can consult your pediatrician if you have questions about your child’s vaccination program.
Many government health offices issue a personal immunization to make it easier for parents to keep track of vaccination schedules. If your child has a personal vaccination record, you’ll need to bring it to every appointment and have it updated by the clinic or specialist who gave the vaccine. This way, you can use the record as a reference should it be needed in future vaccination sessions or consultations with your pediatrician.
Aside from making preparations, you must also prepare your child physically and emotionally for their vaccination day. For instance, you can talk to your school-age child about typical experiences when receiving immunization. You can explain that they may feel some level of pain or discomfort while being injected but that it’s generally a quick and manageable procedure.
It may also be helpful to discuss any fear or worry your child may have about seeing the doctor or receiving treatment using injections. Doing so will be a great way to explain the importance of vaccinations to your child’s health and that they’ll be safe and supported throughout the process.
Positioning Your Child For Vaccination
Parents with infants, toddlers, and small school-aged children must know how to position their children for a quick, safe, and convenient vaccination process. While some clinics or facilities use exam tables where the patient can lie down, others allow parents to hold the child in place until the vaccine is administered. Doing so will significantly help comfort the child during the injection and prevent unnecessary movements that can cause injury or accidents.
If you have an infant or a toddler getting an immunization shot in the leg, you can opt to place the child on your lap and hold them in a cuddling position. This position can comfort and soothe your little one while keeping the arms and hands away from syringes and other items. Meanwhile, toddlers and younger children can stand before the parent or the vaccination specialist for arm injections. In this position, it’s important to remind your child to stay still and avoid sudden movements to prevent injury.
Many parents of infants, toddlers, and young children may find it challenging to deal with their child’s fear of vaccine injections. It’s common for kids of any age to display signs of fear, anxiety, and distress in this scenario, and this is why parents need to be prepared when it happens.
Here are some tips you can consider to help your child deal with strong reactions or emotions during vaccination:
- You can bring your child’s favorite book or toy and use it to comfort them when needed.
- Hold and cuddle your child during and after the vaccine shot. Speak in a soothing voice and help them calm down, especially when displaying signs of pain or distress.
- If your baby cries during or after injection, you can comfort it through breastfeeding, swaddling, or cuddling until the initial pain or discomfort subsides.
- Pre-teen or adolescent children are prone to fainting during or after an injection, and you can comfort or protect them from injury by letting them sit or lie down until they feel better.
- Allow your child to cry or express their fear or discomfort. Doing so will help them relieve strong emotions and recover more quickly.
Finally, you can ask your child’s doctor if you can use pain relief medications during recovery.
Your child may experience pain, tenderness, swelling, and a rise in body temperature minutes or hours after administering the vaccine. To alleviate pain and discomfort, lightly pat the swollen skin surface with a cool, damp cloth. If your child is feverish, give them a lukewarm sponge bath and increase their fluid intake. This will temporarily relieve fever and help it subside more quickly. If needed, you can also consult your doctor to see if you can give your child over-the-counter pain relievers.
Recognizing side effects a few hours after a vaccine shot is typical. Experts believe these symptoms, usually mild and manageable, are signs that the vaccine works as intended. Moreover, they don’t usually pose any serious risks and will subside without treatment after a few days.
- Mild fever
- Slight swelling on the injected area
- Loss of appetite
- Tenderness or heavy feeling on the body part injected
To help your child recuperate more quickly, allow them to rest for a few days until they regain energy fully. You may also limit their activity or play time until all the pain or swelling subsides.
Most allergic vaccine reactions become apparent a few minutes or hours after the shot. To ensure your child’s safety, you’ll need to be on the lookout for anything unusual in their appearance, energy level, mood, or behavior. You also need to pay close attention if your child reports pain or discomfort and seek immediate medical care when required.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of adverse reactions to vaccines:
- Breathing difficulties
- Rashes or hives
- Redness or swelling in the throat or face
- Lack of energy
Likewise, babies and toddlers who experience high fever and display signs of distress should be taken to the doctor for emergency treatment immediately.
Aside from preparation for the vaccination and post-care guidelines, other factors about immunization that many parents often ask about are as follows:
Children experiencing mild symptoms of ailments such as a low-grade fever, mild stomach upset or diarrhea, runny nose, or cough can proceed to take their vaccines as scheduled. These conditions don’t affect the body’s reaction to vaccines, so canceling vaccine appointments is unnecessary.
It’s safe to take antibiotics before vaccination as it won’t affect its effectiveness or cause adverse effects on your child’s health.
If your child has a severe illness or condition, such as the examples below, it may be best to wait until the symptoms subside or until your pediatrician advises that it’s safe to proceed.
- Chronic diseases, such as cancer
- Weak immune system
- Allergies to substances present in a vaccine
Apart from these, it may also be best to await full recovery if the child has recently undergone complex medical treatments or surgeries like chemotherapy or organ transplant.
Vaccinations are essential in protecting your child from serious illnesses, so it’s best to adhere to the pediatric vaccination program recommended by your local health ministry or pediatric experts. As a parent, you can help your child understand the importance of immunization by explaining what it entails. You can also comfort and support them when they experience pain, distress, or fear through the process. Furthermore, observing your child post-vaccination is essential to address any severe symptoms. With this, you’ll be able to get proper medical treatment as required.