12:56 PM

Tips for Administering Vaccines to Patients Ages 5-11

Cook Children's Vaccine ClinicWhat we know: Fear increases a patient’s perception of pain, therefore, building rapport, quick assessment, preparation, and the use of pain management interventions are beneficial to a child’s coping.

Here are ways you can help reduce the patient’s fear and provide an emotionally safe experience:

  • Build Rapport
    • Speak to both the patient and the caregiver/guardian.
    • Validate any observed fear or anxiety. 
      • “It looks like you are feeling a little bit nervous, let’s talk about what we can do to make this as easy and comfortable for you as possible.”
  • Quick Assessment 
    • Ask the patient questions like “How do you typically do with shots/pokes?” or “Do you remember the last time you had a vaccine?”
    • Some patients will have developmental, behavioral, or sensory needs that need to be acknowledged before moving on. Collaborate with the family to make a plan to support the patient’s needs.
    • Based on previous experiences, decide what interventions may be helpful in order for the patient to receive the vaccine. 
      • “It sounds like last time was pretty scary for you, maybe this time would you like to try some distraction to take your mind off of it and take relaxing breaths?”
  • Prepare
    • Be honest with the patient and let them know what you are going to do but also let them know they can be a part of the plan.
    • Give the patient and caregiver/guardian a job. 
      • “Your job is to hold as still as you can, you can watch or look away.” 
      • “Let me know if you don’t want to watch so I can give you a heads up before I do it.”
      • “Would you like for me to count ‘1,2,3’ or just do it?
      • “[Caregiver/Guardian], why don’t you sit right here beside [patient] to hold their hand, if they want, or just talk to them to help comfort and distract them.”
    • If the patient or guardian begins to escalate with fear or frustration, validate and de-escalate. 
      • “We need to continue to remain safe while we do this vaccine, your job is to …. And I will do everything I can to help make this as easy and comfortable as possible for you.” 
      • “It seems like your [Caregiver/Guardian] really wants for you to be safe and get this vaccine to keep your body healthy. Let’s work together to get this done.”
  • Provide Pain Management and Coping Techniques
    • buzzyComfort position
      • Allow the patient to sit up next to or in a parent’s lap, laying down is the most vulnerable position. When a child feels in control, they act in control.
    • Cold spray (aka “Elsa Spray” or “Mr. Freeze Spray”)
      • Maybe say, “This is a helper so [the patient] doesn’t have to feel the poke as much.”
      • Clean and prepare the vaccine site, spray cold spray for 4-10 seconds and administer the vaccine without delay.
    • Take relaxing breaths
      • Encourage the patient to take a breath in through their nose like they are smelling a flower and breathe out of their mouth like they are blowing out a candle.
    • Therapeutic conversation
      • “Describe your idea of a ‘perfect’ day. What would make it perfect?"
      • “If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and who would you take with you?”
      • “If you could be president for a day, what would you do?”
    • Items for distraction
      • Patient or guardian’s electronic device for listening to music, looking at pictures, etc.
      • I Spy sheet
      • Squeeze ball