Fearing the Needle
By CWK Network Producer
“After the age of one and a half to two, [kids] begin to know where they are when they’re coming to the pediatrician’s office and usually if they’re worried about shots they’ll start screaming when the parents drive by the office, before they even come in.”
-Michael Levine, MD, pediatrician
Now, as the flu season begins, a scary moment for some kids is about to arrive- a flu shot. That long stainless steel needle frightens some children and makes them hate going to see the doctor.
If your kids are afraid to go to the doctor, often their fear comes down to the needle.
Four-year-old Amir agrees. “I don’t like shots, cause it ‘veriyitly’ hurts,” he says.
“It can be a little overwhelming sometimes,” says his mom. “He has a tendency to get all worked up with in the past having shots. I just try to soothe him and calm him down.”
Doctors say there are ways parents can ease their child’s anxiety. First, choose your words carefully. “Don’t use the phase ‘This won’t hurt’, because as soon as you say the word hurt, that’s all the child hears and they think, ‘this is really gonna hurt’,” says pediatrician Dr. Michael Levine.
Levine says the next step is distraction. “We try to distract the child as much as possible, and in fact, if we can distract them enough, very often they don’t even know they had the shot, and by the time it’s over they didn’t realize they had it.”
“Just like, not letting them see the needle,” agrees Kristen Williams, mother of two. “And it’s really not as bad as I think they think it’s gonna be, so as long as they don’t see it, it usually helps.” Her daughters were in for their flu shots, and they were not happy about it.
Doctors say usually toys will do to the trick. “Like a pinwheel … and if we ask the child- and we demonstrate for them- to blow on the pinwheel while the nurse is giving the shot, often times they don’t even feel the shot,” explains Levine.
And he says, even just a tight hug from mom can work. “And that uses their muscles in a different way and they don’t feel the shot going in.”
Amir just came into the doctor’s office today to support his sick sister, but he was in for a big surprise. “Why you gonna give me a flu shot?” he asks the nurse.
“To try to keep you nice and healthy so you don’t get the flu,” she responds.
And with the help of his mom, two seconds later, the shot was over.
“That flu shot just hurt a little bit,” he says, “and it was all done.”
Should My Child Get A Flu Shot?
By CWK Network, Inc
Influenza (flu) is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs that can strike someone of any age. However, because the flu is not life threatening in healthy people, and because most people recover fully, health officials generally recommend the use of vaccine for children, elderly people and people with other health problems. Those are the people more likely to become seriously ill or to die from the flu or its complications. Children—especially those with health problems—should receive a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination for the following groups of people:
- A Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
- Pregnant women
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
- People who developed Guillian-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously.
- Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group).
- People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.
If there is a serious reaction to the vaccine, call a doctor, or go to a hospital right away.
What Parents Need to Know
Yearly seasonal flu vaccination should begin in September, or as soon as the seasonal flu vaccine is available, and continue throughout the flu season into December, January, and beyond. This is because the timing and duration of flu seasons vary. While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time seasonal flu activity peaks in January or later.
Every year in the United States, on average:
- 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
- more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications; and
- about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.
Some people, such as older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), are at increased risk for serious complications from seasonal flu illness.
Symptoms of seasonal flu include:
- fever (often high)
- extreme tiredness
- dry cough
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle aches
- Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults. Some people who have been infected with the new H1N1 flu virus have reported diarrhea and vomiting.