A child smiles and shows off a bandage after getting vaccinatedThis is a different type of blog post. You’ll find this one is a personal story from one of our staffers about her experience getting her kids vaccinated. As a nurse and mom, she also shares her top tips for a successful vaccination experience. 

When the pandemic started in early 2020, I had concerns for not only for my own health but the health of my newborn baby girl and my two other children.  Some of the members of our family have chronic conditions that make it harder to fight off respiratory and sinus infections. My newborn didn’t have a mature immune system so I was concerned that she could get very sick if she became infected with COVID-19. 

We changed family habits, such as avoiding large crowds, wearing masks, and washing our hands more, but I knew getting vaccinated would be a top priority for our family to stay healthy.

Cocooning Our Kids Before They Could Get Vaccinated

When vaccines became available for adults in early 2021, my husband and I scheduled our appointments as soon as we could.  We did this to not only protect ourselves but also cocoon our kids who were too young to be vaccinated. 

Cocooning children is not a new concept.  I got vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy and my adult family members also got vaccinated against pertussis to help protect our baby who would be too young to get the pertussis vaccine.

Deciding to Get the Vaccine

When vaccines were available for my 7 and 9 year old children, we made appointments as soon as possible.  I trusted the vaccine and knew it was safe for my kids and me after listening to CDC webinars and ACIP discussions and reading articles about the vaccine studies. Both of my older children understand what vaccines are, as they have received their childhood immunizations at their routine well child visits since birth, and our family has had conversations about why we get vaccinations and their purpose. 

Preparing for Our Appointment

As a nurse and a mom of three children, I usually know what to anticipate for each doctor’s visit, and I make sure they know what could happen in that appointment too.  I think it is important to provide my children with an understanding of what to expect, which can prevent melt-downs or temper tantrums at the doctor’s office.  I also do it out of respect for my kids; I would want to know what could happen in an appointment rather than being blindsided at the doctor’s office.  

Getting the Shots

The day my older children went to their appointments at the Alliant, we talked about what would happen and that they would get a treat after their appointment. Our kids were excited to be protected with the vaccine, even though they may have been a little nervous about getting the shots. Afterwards they both said that, “it wasn’t that bad” and it “didn’t hurt that much.”

When they went for their second vaccine a few weeks later, they knew what to expect and were not apprehensive or scared. Now that my two older children are vaccinated, I have less anxiety that they could get severely ill with COVID.  I know that the vaccines will help if they do get sick with COVID, as they may have less severe symptoms and fewer sick days.  My two older children are also helping cocoon their little sister who is still too young to receive the COVID vaccine. 

Vaccination Advice for Parents with Young Kids

Here is my advice to parents who may be apprehensive about vaccinating their child against COVID or who have an upcoming appointment to get their child vaccinated:

  • Talk to your child’s provider if you have questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines. They are the experts in your child’s health care and can help answer your questions. 
  • Talk to your child about the vaccine. Even if they are really young, you can still explain what vaccines do in simple words.  For example, shots can help you stay healthy and make sure you don’t get really sick. Videos can help! Here’s a great one from Elmo.
  • Talk to your child about what they can expect at that appointment. For example, “We first need to go to the check in desk and then we will wait to get called back.  Then, the nurse will clean your arm with some special cleaner and then they will give you the shot.  Sometimes it feels like a pin prick or a quick pinch.  Would you like to sit on my lap or do you want to hold my hand?”
  • Give your child a choice of which arm they would like the shot. Sometimes, giving them a choice helps at the appointment. 
  • Offer a treat/token after the shot. It could be as simple as a sticker, piece of candy, or big hug.
  • You know your child better than anyone. What may work for one child may not work with another.  For example, maybe your child needs a cold ice pack after the shot.  Do what works for your child and family.

Getting Vaccinated by Public Health Madison & Dane County

Thanks so much to our staffer for sharing her story! We wanted to add that you can find spots to get vaccinated—including many pop-up vaccination sites—on our website. If your child is nervous or scared to get a vaccine, let us know! Our staff are extremely skilled at putting children and ease and talking through the process. There have been some kiddos who need 30 minutes or an hour to feel comfortable, and that’s time we’re willing to spend to get them a lifesaving shot.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Public Health Madison & Dane County and a link back to the original post.