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Taking the Ouch Out of Immunizations

News & Events

Taking the Ouch Out of Immunizations

Madison, Wisconsin - The thought of a painful needle poke may be keeping parents from getting their children vaccinated.

“Studies have shown that perceptions of vaccine toxicity are the biggest reason why parents avoid vaccinating their children. But another reason is fear of the pain caused by injections,” said Peggy Riley, American Family Children’s Hospital clinical nurse specialist who works with pediatric providers to improve pain management for children.

“With the recent resurgence of measles, whooping cough and mumps, it’s very important to vaccinate children. Our job is to make pain and needle anxiety less of a barrier to vaccination,” said Riley. She works with inpatient pediatrics providers and outpatient clinics on age-appropriate, non-drug pain-management practices for children.

One of the most effective pain management methods is distraction, using another activity to direct children away from the pain as they are getting shots.

“Light-up or interactive toys, music, deep breathing, counting and singing are just some examples of distractions. For infants, swaddling the upper extremities and leaving the legs free for access to the injection site, might make them more comfortable,” said Riley. Riley said besides distraction, parents can also influence children’s vaccination experiences because they are an essential part of the caring team. “Parents shouldn’t hesitate to advocate for children.

Parents know their children best and can guide the health care team on pain management during vaccinations,” said Riley.

In addition, Riley recommends that parents try to stay calm because children can sense anxious feelings.

“Being that calm support person can help decrease the amount of stress and pain for a child,” said Riley. She said the language used by the parent before, during and after the injections also is important for pain management.

Date Published: 02/11/2015