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How to prepare your child for their first COVID-19 shot

A woman holding a large teddy bear laughs with a young girl in a doctor costume

COVID-19 can make kids very sick. The COVID-19 vaccine can help prevent that. But what if your child is nervous about getting their shot?

Here are four tips on how to prepare your child for their COVID-19 vaccine.

1. Talk about their vaccine visit in advance.

We all feel better about medical procedures when we know what to expect. Talk to your child about what happens at their vaccine appointment. Answer their questions honestly. Explain that they may feel a tiny amount of discomfort after the shot. And mention some of the common side effects.

2. Use comforting, positive language.

For younger children in particular, it's important to let them know that it's OK to feel nervous. Focusing on the positives when talking about the vaccine can also help. Tell younger kids that it's important to get their shot because it helps keep them, their friends and their family healthy.

3. Find ways to manage anxiety on the day.

Many kids are anxious on the day of their shot. Try to make a plan for how to handle vaccine day worries. Younger children may want to bring a favorite stuffed animal. Older kids might like the distraction of a video or game. Deep, calming breaths can also help—and you can practice them in advance.

4. Plan a special treat for afterward.

Planning a reward can help children manage vaccine nerves. You know your child best. So organize something for them to look forward to. This could involve going somewhere special or spending quality time with loved ones.

After your child's first vaccine visit, be sure to schedule their second dose with your vaccine clinic, primary care provider or pharmacist.

Find more information on COVID-19 vaccines in our Coronavirus health topic center.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; American Hospital Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Reviewed 9/9/2022

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