Bringing your child for immunisation – tips for parents.
Some parents mistakenly think that having a vaccination is similar to having a blood test. The good news is that vaccination is much quicker, simpler and less painful. Fussy clothing, fear and being in a hurry are the main problems to avoid when taking your child for a jab. With common sense and forward planning, getting vaccinated needn’t be a trauma for you or your child.
Wear the right clothes
Wearing the right clothes can save you time and effort at the surgery. If you want your child to have a trouble-free vaccination, avoid chunky, padded or tight-fitting clothes with lots of buttons and straps. They take time to remove and put back on. Choose clothes that you can remove or roll up easily. Babies under 12 months have jabs in the thigh. Older children have them in the arm. Thin cotton layers fastened with poppers are perfect for babies, and loose or short sleeves are ideal for older children.
Time it right
Give yourself enough time to get to your appointment without having to rush. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be in and out of the surgery quickly. Ideally, allow yourself an hour. Clinics can run behind schedule, and you need time to ask the nurse questions. If you rush, you’ll be stressed; your child will sense that and become anxious.
It’s natural to get anxious when your baby or child is having a vaccination. You may worry that the doctor or nurse will hurt them. But try to stay calm and treat the procedure in a matter-of-fact way. If you're anxious, this fear may spread to your child. The less fuss, the better. Usually, the nurse will ask you to hold your child on your knee. If the injection is given swiftly, your child won’t even see the needle or notice that anything has happened. If you’re nervous about seeing your child having an injection, ask a nurse or another member of staff to hold them for you. Older children generally find it less traumatic if parents explain that vaccination is a good thing that will keep them healthy. Use plain language to prepare your child for what's going to happen at the surgery.
Give a painkiller if needed
Vaccinations shouldn’t hurt, although the area injected can be sore and red afterwards. Your child may develop a mild fever (a temperature greater than 37.5ºC) after the vaccination. If a fever develops, you can give your child infant paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat it.
Please visit the NHS Choices website for your childs immunisation schedule.
Be aware of allergic reactions
A serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is rare. If it does happen, it's rapid and happens within minutes. The people who give vaccinations are trained to deal with anaphylactic reactions. Children recover completely with treatment. Tell the nurse before the injection about any bad reactions your child has had following any previous vaccinations. Children rarely faint after a vaccination, but if your child is prone to fainting, ask if they can have the vaccination lying down.
Advice for relatives
If a relative or child-minder is taking your child for their vaccinations, remember they must have a letter from you. Relatives, child-minders or friends (including fathers or mothers who don't have parental responsibility) need permission from the person who has parental responsibility.
A little reminder...
Always make sure to bring your child's red book along to the appointment so that the nurse can keep your child's health record up to date