Surviving the Flu Shot: Tips for Parents and Kids

South Australia is in the midst of a horror start to the flu season, with confirmed cases of influenza numbers soaring within the state. If you’ve been hesitating on getting a vaccination for yourself or your children, now’s the time take your medicine!

Of course, no one is lining up at first sunlight with excited children in tow, eager to get their shots. But the last thing you want to do is take a stab in the dark with your family’s health. So, we’ve compiled some tips to getting your children through the jab with as little drama as possible.

Honesty is the best policy

Don’t tell your child you’re taking them to the zoo and then rock up at the doctor’s office, shove them guiltily towards the nurse and hope for the best.

Save the sugar-coating for after the injection, and be upfront. Explain to them what the vaccination is, and why we get them. Tell them it might hurt a little bit, but just for a moment.

Choose a vaccination provider that is familiar; a regular GP that your child will recognise and feel comfortable with. Reducing the variables may reassure your child so they feel confident they know what’s going on and are less likely to panic.

Distraction is key

Encourage your child to bring with them a favourite toy or comforter they can cuddle while they’re having the needle.

Tell them a story or chat with them while it’s happening. Make sure you’re relaxed too, children feed off the anxiety of those around them.

Don’t underestimate the lure of contraband. If you limit screen time in your family, now might be the time to bring out the big guns and distract your child with a little bit of Kids YouTube on the iPad.

Don’t be above bribery

Let’s be honest, sometimes bravery is born of a little bit of bribery. You’d be surprised how quickly presenting something as simple as a jellybean, lollipop, balloon or a novelty Frozen Band-Aid can influen(za) a child to… Let it Go, as it were.

Distraction is key, blowing bubbles, watching cartoons, playing a game on a phone. Taking their mind off the task at hand can greatly help to ease anxiety.

Panadol in advance of a vaccination can also help with pain relief.

When all else fails promises of a post injection pay off might just get you across the line. Reward your child by taking them to favourite playground, or to have an ice cream afterwards. Do something as a family, so they relate having the immunisation with something good rather than a trauma. This will help when they’re due for their next one!

For babies 6 months and older

  • Breastfeed your baby before, during and after the needle.
  • Use a bottle or a dummy if you’re not breastfeeding so your infant can suck whilst getting the injection.
  • Distract your baby. You’d be surprised how often a bit of cooing and cuddling can take the focus off what’s actually going on. If you’re lucky, your little one may not even notice they’ve had a needle at all.
  • Divert attention after it’s done with bubbles or by jangling your keys.
  • Use a topical numbing cream. Many parents use anaesthetic patches, available from pharmacies, which are safe to use for babies and work by reducing the pain.

Vaccinations for children under five are provided free by the government.

Babies under six months old cannot have a flu shot, but if their parents, other care givers and older children are all immunised this will help to protect the baby too.

National Pharmacies are participating in the Government’s 2022 free flu vaccination program. For more information:

You may also like