How to prepare your child for COVID-19 vaccination: Tips for nervous parents

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Children in Manitoba from six months and older can now get their COVID-19 vaccine. They will be getting the Moderna vaccine for kids, given in two doses at least eight weeks apart.

Starting August 5, 2022, parents and caregivers can book appointments directly with medical clinics, through the online vaccine finder or through the toll-free vaccine call centre at 1-844-626-8222. Shots are currently available at regional vaccine sites, public health offices and medical clinics.

How to prepare your kids:

For infants:

  1. Breastfeed your child before the injection. In fact, it will help if you breastfeed the baby during and after the shot. Breastfeeding soothes and reduces pain for babies.
  2. You may bottle feed or give the baby a soother before, during and after vaccination if you are unable to breastfeed.
  3. Make sure that the baby’s clothing allows the medical professional to have access to the area where the injection will be done.


Toddlers may get nervous or scared. According to Eastern Health, 33 to 36 per cent of children experience some fear of needles, and five to 10 per cent of children have full-blown trypanophobia (CBC News). Here’s how you can help ease your child’s anxiety:

  1. Be there to support them. Before the appointment, kids may tell you that they’re scared or ask many questions about the vaccine. Answer their questions calmly and reassure them. Most importantly, have a positive attitude about the vaccine – remember that it’s not about “tricking” them into getting it. Toddlers will be able to understand that it is good for them and that it may hurt a little bit but it is necessary for their good health.
  2. Children respond the way you respond. If you’re talking about your fear of needles in front of your child, they will pick up on that. If you have trypanophobia, consider asking a grandparent, another family member or friend to take your child.
  3. Tell them what to expect. Watch this video with them to give them an idea of how the appointment will go:
  4. Make them feel comfortable on the day itself. Bring a toy (stuffed animal or any comfort toy) or a device like an iPad that they can watch. You can also place your child on your lap and give them a loose hug as they receive the shot.
  5. Dress them comfortably. A sleeveless shirt or blouse will make it easier for the doctor to administer the shot. Bring a sweater or jacket that they can put on later if they feel cold.

For more tips, read Reduce the pain of vaccination in children under 3 years from the Caring for Kids website.

Will there be side-effects?

According to Pediatrician Dr. Jared Bullard, long-term data from studies (from vaccinations of those aged five and older) so far show that aren’t many side effects of particular concern (CTV News Winnipeg). The most is that children will likely feel soreness in the area where they got the vaccine. They may also have a fever that can run for a few days. This is the body’s normal response as it is building protection against the disease. Most side-effects will disappear on their own within a day or two.

Being nervous about vaccinations is normal for parents. We care about our kids and want the very best for them. Ask your family doctor if you have more questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine for kids. They are the best sources of factual and scientific medical health information. They will be able to provide clear answers and further guidance on how to keep your kids healthy and safe.

You can also get information from these reliable sources:

Sources: What parents need to know about getting young kids vaccinated, Kayla Rosen, CTV News; Why should children and youth get the vaccine? Doctors Manitoba; Immunization, Caring for Kids (Information for parents from Canada’s paediatricians); and All Manitoba kids 6 months and older can get COVID-19 vaccine starting Friday, CBC News. Retrieved August 5, 2022.

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