How to prepare kids ages 5 to 11 for COVID-19 vaccine


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Earlier this month, Pfizer asked the FDA for emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, and a decision is imminent.

“If the kids are nervous, it’s an issue of trying to normalize it like the flu shot,” Dr. Ryan Loss of Connecticut Behavioral Health said.

He advises us to start prepping children now. Be confident, not fearful. They will pick up on parents’ attitudes.

“With the younger ones, I do think it’s useful to talk about how they’ve done it before, how they’ve gotten through it before, practicing some basic breathing relaxation to try to calm them down,” Loss said.

But what if your child absolutely cannot be consoled over the discomfort of a shot?

“It might be useful to look into something more significant like therapy to have someone else communicate some skills to them,” Loss said. “There are pediatricians who would recommend hypnosis.”

Or, consider a motivational tactic, such as, “After you get the shot, we can get an ice cream.”

“I’m a huge supporter of motivating through reinforcement,” Loss said. “I think rewards are fine and can work for some kids – it’s just a matter of when that kid shifts to straight out fear and anxiety and all the rewards go out the door.”

If parents are nervous about signing their child up for the shot, Loss suggests talking to experts.

“I would try to normalize it from a parents’ side of it and, again, parents can talk to their pediatrician who may have greater information on the research that’s come through,” Loss said.

Lastly, we can find fear in any of these choices. How do we manage this time of overthinking?

“You try as best as you can as a family to try to normalize life in an abnormal situation,” Loss said, suggesting an investment in fun, relaxing activities.

The FDA advisory panel is scheduled to meet on Oct. 26 to discuss authorizing a vaccine for kids 5 to 11 and emergency use authorization could come soon after that.

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