Vaccines for children: What to expect at the vaccination appointment

On this page

Preparing for your child’s vaccination

It’s common and understandable to feel anxious about your child’s vaccination visit. Knowing what to expect and how to comfort your child can help ease your worries and make it a positive experience for you and your child.

Consult a health care provider or your public health authority to determine when and where to book an appointment.

Learn more about:

Vaccination records

Keep your child's vaccination record in a safe place so you can find it when needed, such as:

  • when your child starts school or daycare
  • for your child’s next vaccination appointment

Having this record is helpful if you need to take your child to another health care provider.

If your child does not have a vaccination record, you can ask for one from your health care provider.

Making the vaccination experience a positive one

There are many ways to help manage pain and fear during vaccination. The CARD system is an evidence-based tool that parents can use before, during and after vaccination. The CARD system guides parents on how to use strategies we know can help make the vaccination experience a more positive one:

  • Comfort: provide comfortable spaces for vaccination with available seating
  • Ask: let people ask questions and address their concerns
  • Relax: reduce the number of things that might scare them
  • Distract: take attention away from the procedure for those who request it

Using more than one approach, such as comfort positions and a distraction can be more effective in creating a positive vaccination experience. Invite your child to help choose their preferred coping strategies.

Learn more about:

Before the vaccination

Prepare your child by talking about the vaccination they will receive at their appointment. Tell them what will happen and how it will feel.

Try using words such as ‘you may feel a pinch or pushing sensation’ to describe how it might feel. Avoid misleading information like ‘it won't hurt.'

Answer your child's questions and tell them what you'll do to help make it a better experience.

Be prepared to have your child’s medical history ready, as a health care provider may ask you a few questions about your child’s health, such as if they have:

  • allergies
  • existing health problems
  • previous reactions to vaccines

If you have any questions or concerns about the vaccination, be sure to raise them with the health care provider.

Numbing medications for the skin called topical anesthetic can help reduce the pain your child feels during vaccination. Ask a health care provider if this is a good option for your child, and how to use and apply the medication appropriately.

If your child has a high level of needle fear, talk to a health care provider about it. Your child may benefit from treatment of needle fear with an expert such as a psychologist. Treating needle fear can help children to accept vaccination and other needle procedures.

During the vaccination

There are many ways to help manage pain and fear during vaccination.

To help with the vaccination process, try:

  • distraction, such as:
    • toys
    • music
    • games
    • talking
    • singing
  • relaxation techniques like deep belly breathing by:
    • taking deep breaths into your belly
    • breathing in through your nose
    • breathing out through your mouth

After the vaccination

After the vaccination, remember to book an appointment for your child's next vaccination before you leave. Mark the next appointment in your calendar to help you remember.

Finally, talk to a health care provider about what medications can be given to help manage common side effects such as pain and fever after vaccination.

Learn more about:

Related links

Babies and children under 3 years

Children 3 to 17 years

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: