Our kids need several vaccine shots, especially during infant to toddler years. And while we know vaccines are for their health protection, an immunisation schedule can give them and us a lot of stress. But then we can always prep ahead and make visits hassle-free. This step-by-step guide might help.
1. Research and Educate Yourself
Your child’s paediatrician is a good resource person for various vaccines and immunisation schedules you need to complete. Their office should have information sheets on types of vaccine that you can use as a guide. The details may be too technical to comprehend in one go. But don’t worry. Read it at your own pace to digest everything.
I do like to complement whatever resources I have with online research. Of course, you should not rely on every blog or social media post you come across. The Australian Government Department of Health, for instance, is a reputable source. You can also check the Australian Immunisation Handbook. I also recommend learning about extra immunisations needed for Australian children with an underlying medical condition, travelling overseas and so on.
2. Print or Write Down Notes
As you do your research, write down any vaccine-related questions or concerns you may have. Bring your notes at your child’s visit and discuss them with your doctor or immunisation provider. Visits to the paediatrician’s clinic can be chaotic, especially when you have a little one in tow. This extra step will then ensure that you get to ask everything you need to know.
Aside from your notes, you might want to gather essential paperwork as well, like your child’s vaccination history. Before checking in, make sure you have a copy of it. Secure previous immunisation record if your child had vaccinations in another state, too. You may ask for your current doctor’s help for this if needed.
3. Set an Online Appointment
Vaccination in Australia is stress-free if you can set your immunisation schedule online. Nowadays, when you’re trying to limit your family’s exposure to harmful microbes, it’s also the most practical way of getting an appointment. It will let you save time and do away with long queues, too. If an online booking is not possible, set it through phone calls or any other virtual means.
4. Mark Your Calendar
After setting a vaccination appointment date, do not forget to mark it on your calendar. Make the most of your phone or computer scheduling app and turn on alerts to remind you of any upcoming visits. I’m a bit old-school, so I still plot dates on a printed chart. But feel free to use whatever method that works for you.
Keep your calendar updated with succeeding immunisation schedules. Put your kid’s immunisation booklet and documents in one folder to avoid misplacing them, too.
5. Make Your Visit Productive
If you have two or more kids for routine vaccination, set their immunisation schedules on the same day when possible. Aside from time efficiency, it will be easier for you to keep track of their next vaccine shots this way. You can also time their annual check-ups on vaccination day if you want. The fewer trips you make to the doctor, the less stress for you and your little one.
6. Talk to Your Child
There’s no easy way to break the news of an upcoming vaccination day to your children. But you have to be honest, tell them in advance and explain why they have to get shots. Do not say that getting vaccinated is painless either.
What you can do is reassure them that you’ll be with them all the way and the pain won’t last. Role-playing at home can also help lessen anxiety among toddlers. You can re-enact a visit to the doctor and demonstrate how a syringe works.
7. Keep Your Child Preoccupied
On the day of your child’s immunisation schedule, check that you have the necessary documents with you. Also, don’t forget the most important thing of all: your weapon of distraction! Despite the advanced preparations and role-playing, vaccination day can still make any child feel nervous. Even some adults can tense up when they’re about to get a vaccine shot.
For babies, offering a feeding bottle or pacifier after getting a vaccine can be comforting. Things like snacks, books or gadgets for older kids are a great way to keep their minds preoccupied. Making them worry less helps build confidence and makes the jab less painful.
8. Be Calm and Smile
It’s strange that when one says it is going to okay, we feel the opposite. It’s as if an impending doom or something is about to happen. The kids also feel the same way. They perceive their parent’s every grimace, frown or uncertain look. And when you feel like this while saying things will be alright, the kids find it confusing.
Sometimes saying nothing is more reassuring. And so, stay close and hold your child to keep him calm. And when he cries after the shot, do not scold him. Hug and cheer him on for doing a good job.
Ask him to show off his seal of bravery (his Band-Aid!) to people in the office or at home. The bragging rights should help build his confidence and make additional vaccines in the future more tolerable. It will also be great, though optional, to do something fun after your visit. Little things like getting ice cream or spending time at the park can quickly brighten anyone’s bad day.
9. Monitor Your Child for Reactions
Vaccine day may be over for your little one. But for us adults, we still have work to do after it. Getting a shot can induce injection site reactions like mild pain and swelling. Rashes or fever may also occur. Some kids, however, do not experience any side effects at all.
And so, we must observe them up to two days after vaccination. Ask your kids how they are feeling from time to time. Make sure to call your doctor or immunisation provider in case unusual symptoms occur. The cure-all after an immunisation schedule, however, is extra care and attention. They may lose their usual appetite for a while, but keep them hydrated at all times.
Vaccines and booster doses may be for our kids’ optimal protection against infectious diseases. But there are other ways to enhance their immunity. Check out these immunity-boosting tips for kids and start doing them at home.