Select your child's age to learn about the vaccine(s) that he/she may receive:
Preparing for vaccines
You are the most important advocate for the health and well-being of your child. As parents, we want to protect our children from harm. Looking your child in the eyes and thinking or saying, “this is going to hurt but it will keep you healthy” is difficult in the moment. The broader picture is that vaccines do protect our children from diseases that can be severe and life altering. Making informed decisions and supporting your child with that in mind will make the experience much easier. Indeed, a shot does hurt, but thankfully this is limited while its health benefits are long lasting.
To prepare yourself
- Know which vaccines your adolescent is scheduled to receive.
- Read each Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) to gain an overview of the vaccine and the disease(s) that it prevents.
- For additional information, please read the corresponding Expanded Vaccine Information section.
- Prepare a list of outstanding questions that you may have in anticipation of your visit.
- Please schedule a “vaccine hesitant” appointment (prior to your adolescent’s visit) if you have an extensive list of questions or concerns that cannot be addressed within a 5-10 minute period.
- If you are a new patient, please ensure that we have documentation of your adolescent’s past immunizations.
To prepare your adolescent
- Talk to your adolescent about the need for vaccines a day or so before the appointment. Adolescents measure the accuracy and dependability of what we say and do. If we say one thing and the opposite is true, an adolescent gets frustrated and mad. Recurrent mistruths or misleading statements only magnify an adolescent’s fears rather than reducing or eliminating them. Be forthright. Explain to your adolescent that the shot will hurt a bit, but it will be over quickly and it will help keep them healthy. Reinforce that it is okay to cry if it hurts. If your adolescent says that they do not want or will not get a shot, respond with a firm but reassuring statement that lets them know that you are going to help them through the process.
- Reassure your adolescent with a gentle voice, good eye contact, smiles and nurturing touches leading up to and immediately after the shots.
- Bring along a favorite comfort item, a book to read or even a stress ball to squeeze prior to and during the shots.
- For those adolescents who want to know when the shot is going in, ask the nurse to count to three while your adolescent takes a slow deep breath in and out as the vaccine is given. You can practice this at home and prior to the shots.
- We do not recommend routinely giving a dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen prior to the shots. One study suggested this practice may decrease the effectiveness of the immune response. Most importantly, we do not want to give unnecessary medication. We generally reserve it for those adolescents who develop fever or pain that adversely affects their mood or sleep.
After the vaccines
Your adolescent may be more tired and less interested in food for a couple of days after the vaccines. Be patient and understanding while providing extra comfort during this time. The area around the injection site may also be sore. It may appear red and swollen. A low grade fever is also not uncommon. If your adolescent is uncomfortable from pain or fever, please give a dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen (unless your provider instructed you otherwise). Continue to administer it (as needed) according to the dosing schedule. You can also place a cool wet cloth on the injection site. Encourage your adolescent to drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.
To review other potential side effects or reactions, please reference the Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) for each of the vaccines your adolescent received. As always, please call us if you have any outstanding concerns, questions or problems.