Vaccines for children: What to expect at the vaccination appointment

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Before the appointment

Knowing what to expect before your appointment will make it easier to prepare and to answer your child’s questions. This can help you and your child feel more comfortable and have a positive vaccine experience.

Talk to your child’s health care provider to learn more about the recommended childhood vaccinations in your province or territory.

It's also important to have your child's vaccine record to take to the appointment. If your child doesn't have one, contact their health care provider or your local public health unit to get one.

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Resources for helping children who are afraid of needles

During the appointment

Give your child’s vaccine record to the person giving the vaccination so they can update it after the appointment. If you don't have one, ask for one at your appointment.

Your child's health care provider may ask you a few medical questions before vaccination, such as if your child has:

  • allergies to a vaccine or a component of the vaccine
  • health problems
  • had a serious reaction to a previous vaccination
  • particular concerns or anxiety about receiving a vaccine

Try using the CARD system to make the experience more comfortable.

Comfort your child by holding and talking to them during the vaccination. If you’re nursing, try feeding your child right before, during or after the vaccination. This will help to comfort them.

Ask any questions you have to make sure you and your child feel informed and prepared.

Relax, as your child may react to your emotions and when you're calm, they're likely to be more at ease.

Distract your child. Your soothing voice or touch can help comfort your child, as can a favourite toy, story or song.

You may also find it easier to keep your child busy with a game or video.

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Before leaving the clinic

Be sure your health care provider records the vaccination in your child's vaccine record.

Make an appointment for your child's next vaccination if needed.

You'll be asked to wait in the office for at least 15 minutes after the vaccination to make sure your child doesn't have an allergic reaction.

Serious allergic reactions to vaccines are very rare. Signs may include:

  • breathing problems (wheezing)
  • swelling of the face, tongue or throat
  • red rash on the skin (hives)

If you think your child is experiencing a serious allergic reaction, alert a staff member at the clinic right away. They have medication on hand to manage allergic reactions.

After the appointment

Sometimes after vaccinations, children can:

  • be fussy
  • have a mild fever
  • be sleepier than usual
  • have pain, swelling or redness where the injection was given

These reactions are normal and usually go away within a few days. You can give your child medication to help with the pain or to lower a fever if needed. Check with your child's health care provider if you need advice about which medication to use.

Contact your child’s health care provider or seek medical attention if:

  • your child has symptoms that are getting worse or not going away
  • you're worried for any other reason

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