Preparing to Vaccinate Young Children: COVID-19 - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Preparing to Vaccinate Young Children: COVID-19

These tips are provided as a framework, particularly for sites that do not routinely provide vaccination services for children. This information cannot substitute for in-person, hands-on training from staff with experience vaccinating children. Each site is responsible for ensuring proper training and competency of their staff if they choose to provide vaccination services to children.

In addition to this checklist, all COVID-19 vaccine providers should complete the Required Training for Registered COVID-19 Vaccine Providers and be familiar with MDH's Interim COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Guide available at COVID-19 Vaccine Providers.

The developmental stage of a child will determine the social, psychological, and physiological approaches a vaccinator must use to safely vaccinate. Because vaccinating small children is very different than vaccinating adults, some staff may not be comfortable or willing to vaccinate younger children. Please respect and consider that when determining if your vaccination site can provide services to younger children and making subsequent staff assignments.

Training Transcript: COVID-19 Vaccines in Young Children (PDF)

Family-centered approach

  • Parents should be with their child.
    • Occasionally a parent will not want to be present, so have someone to help as needed.
  • Parents know their child best. Listen to them.
    • Ask parents what works best for their child when they come for their appointment.
    • Decreasing a parent's anxiety will help to decrease their child's anxiety.
  • Provide parents with all the same patient education (including the emergency use authorization (EUA) fact sheet) and tell them what to expect after vaccination.
  • Instruct the parent how to hold their young child and encourage them to help with distractors.
  • Talk directly to children and answer their questions.
  • Be honest. Explain that shots can pinch or sting, but that it won't hurt for long.
  • Remind children that vaccines can keep them healthy.
  • Give children some control.
    • Ask them questions like, “Which arm would you like your shot in?”
    • Don't ask them about things they can't control (i.e., “Do you want a shot?”).
    • Let the child know they can be loud but they cannot move.
  • Distracting children can decrease pain and anxiety.
    • Sing or talk softly.
    • Point out interesting things in the room.
    • Tell or read stories.
    • Show them how to take deep breaths and help "blow out" the pain.
    • Wiggle all ten toes.
    • Squeeze a parent’s hand as hard as they can.
  • Be supportive. Never scold a child for their reaction or not "being brave."

Additional resources:

Environmental considerations

  • Promote a family-friendly environment. Families may come with multiple children.
  • Consider how the room/vaccination location set-up can reduce the “fear factor” of other children watching what is happening before their turn.
    • Privacy screens and cots should be available.
    • Don’t draw up the vaccine in front of the child. Have a clean area to mix and draw up the vaccine out of the child's view.
  • Younger children may cry, scream, or try to run away. A private place for vaccination such as an exam room may be necessary.
  • Privacy may also be needed for a child needing an intramuscular (IM) injection in their thigh instead of arm.
  • Provide books, pictures, bubbles, and other items that can be used to distract children.
  • Consider having juice and crackers available for lightheaded children.

Vaccine administration in children

Additional resources:

Identify and respond to adverse events

  • All vaccine administration has the risk of anaphylaxis.
  • Every setting should have proper equipment, medications, and procedures in place to handle an anaphylactic reaction to a vaccine.
  • All children should be observed for at least 15 minutes after vaccination.
  • All adverse reactions and vaccine administration errors should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Additional resources:

Updated Tuesday, 23-Nov-2021 17:04:12 CST