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How to Have a Happy Immunisation Visit

How can you make your childs immunisation appointment as stress-free as possible, for you and your little one? The Immunisation Advisory Centre tell us

 mum+  Article by the Immunisation Advisory Centre

How to Have a Happy Immunisation Visit

Now you’re fully part of the coffee-drinking, bill-paying, child-producing adult world, you probably find it’s pretty hard to remember the long, fun-filled days of your early childhood. And the bits you do remember are probably the fun bits – beaches, ice creams and cuddles with nan.

You’re less likely to remember the everyday bits, like your childhood immunisations. In fact, we at the Immunisation Advisory Centre reckon immunisation visits are tougher on you as a parent than your little one – we know how hard it is to see an upset face.

So, if you’ve got an upcoming immunisation visit, here’s how we recommend you manage it and how to care for your child before, during and after.

How to have a happy immunisation visit

Before and during the immunisation

  • The best way to support your child is to stay calm and relaxed, even if they’re upset – they’ll pick up on your relaxed vibes, which will help them know there’s nothing to be scared of.
  • Distraction is a great tool – bring along their favourite stuffed toy or blanket to cuddle during the immunisation. It’ll comfort them too.
  • Hold little one firmly during the immunisation – talk calmly and gently stroke their arm or back to reassure them.

Tips for older children

If you have a wait for the immunisation, you may end up with a bored child. So, take their favourite books or toys along to keep them entertained and happy.

Take the scary unknown-ness out of the visit by talking to them throughout so they know what’s happening.

During the immunisation, distract them by playing games, getting them to blow out like they’re blowing bubbles (maybe even bring a bottle of bubbles, although it’s a good idea to check with the doctor or nurse that they’re ok with that), singing, or something else you know they enjoy.

How to have a happy immunisation visit

After the immunisation

It’s normal for your child to cry a little bit after they’ve been injected – it’s a new sensation after all. Offer them lots of comfort, by holding them tightly and talking to them supportively.

Straight after their immunisation is a great time to feed a baby as it’ll help them settle.

You’ll need to stay in the clinic for 20 minutes after the immunisation. This is a great opportunity to have a quiet relax together and settle little one.

How to have a happy immunisation visit

Immunisation side-effects

Most children don’t experience any side effects after immunisation. Some minor side effects include mild fever or tenderness, swelling or redness at the injection site.

Here’s how to make your little one more comfortable after their immunisation:

  • Avoid rubbing the injection site.
  • Give them lots of cuddles and lots of fluids.
  • If you’re breastfeeding, give lots of feeds.
  • An ice pack wrapped well in a dry cloth, or better still a cool cloth, can be held over a sore injection site.
  • If your child feels hot, try undressing them down to a single layer, like a singlet and pants.
  • Make sure the room isn’t too hot or too cold.

Protecting your baby from disease is FREE

Immunisation begins when your baby is just 6 weeks old - are you ready?

Immunising on time provides the best protection for your family by preventing the spread of serious diseases.

Check out the National Immunisation Schedule today and see if you need to contact your family doctor to make an appointment.

Medication for temperature or pain

If little one is unsettled and upset because of fever or pain, you can give them paracetamol or ibuprofen to make them feel more comfortable. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions correctly.

We don’t recommend giving your child paracetamol before and repeatedly after immunisation just in case they feel unwell. This is because it can interfere with the immune response.

How to have a happy immunisation visit

Expert Profile: The Immunisation Advisory Centre

Providing research-backed information on the benefits and risks of immunisation

We are working to improve the understanding and quality of immunisation in New Zealand by creating and sustaining healthier communities, protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

We provide national immunisation coordination and policy advice and research, too.

Questions about immunisation or diseases?  You can call us free on: 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863), weekdays 9am-4.30 pm, or visit our website.


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