Of course, in some cases, vaccinations can cause soreness and irritability that persists for a few days. That's important information to share with child care providers and other caregivers, so they're prepared to cope.
Soothing the screams from childhood vaccines
Study suggests sweetened pacifiers, blowing bubbles and other distractions
CHICAGO - Some children sob, others scream, and some get so upset they have to be restrained by medical staff. But a new study suggests parents can ease the anxiety about immunizations by telling a joke, reading a book or bringing a favorite toy from home.
Other proven distraction techniques include blowing soap bubbles and, for under six months, using a pacifier dipped in sugar water.
“All of those kinds of things can take children’s minds away from the needle poised to go into their arm,” said lead author Dr. Neil L. Schechter, the director of the Pain Relief Program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
The study appears in the May 2007 edition of Pediatrics.
Parents who are overly apologetic or excessively reassuring during the procedure can actually cause more distress, the research found. Instead, parents should adopt a “matter-of-fact, supportive, nonapologetic approach,” researchers said.
Schechter’s team reviewed hundreds of previous studies regarding pediatric immunizations and referenced about 120 in their article, in which they also make recommendations for doctors.
While some may dismiss the shots as a rite of passage, children’s fear can interfere with important discussions pediatricians need to have with parents, said Schechter, who is also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and a pediatrician at Hartford’s St. Francis Hospital.
At Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, child life specialist Emily Rogers helps young patients deal with procedures including injections and getting their blood drawn.
Rogers said she believed the study was a valuable one. While somewhat surprised with findings that overly empathetic parents can cause more distress, she theorized it’s because children became scared and confused when they feel their parents lack control over a situation.
She carries a “distraction bag” packed with pinwheels, bubbles, whistles and books, and she also helps young patients practice relaxation and breathing techniques.
Rogers said it’s important parents not bargain with their child, instead emphasizing while it’s OK to feel scared, the medical procedure is designed to help them and the child isn’t being punished.
And a reminder of why vaccination is still a necessary thing...
Vaccine refusals mean more measles
Aug. 21: The CDC reported Thursday that the number of measles cases in the U.S. is at its highest level since 1997, almost half of which involve children whose parents refused to have them vaccinated. (NBC's Robert Bazell reported this story in August, 2007)