Tips on Preparing Children Ages 5-11 for COVID-19 Vaccination

child dressed as doctor administers shot in arm to a woman in this stock photo

As many parents and caregivers wait eagerly to hear that the COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for children ages 5-11, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is sharing important information online. The hospital’s care teams acknowledge that “this age group might be a little more nervous about needles or doctor’s visits.”

On the Connecticut Children’s website, a comprehensive list of tips on how to prepare kids ages 5-11 for their COVID-19 vaccine appointment includes:

  • Use play to “rehearse” the visit. Depending on your child’s age, you can use a favorite toy or a play medical kit to act out what happens at a vaccine visit. It’s also a great time to practice calming exercises, like “bunny breathing” or the “54321” technique.
  • Pack comfort items. Have your child pick a toy or stuffed animal to keep them company. You might also bring a book, headphones or other soothing items, like a sticker pack, medical play kit or handheld game. And bring ear muffs, a hat or sunglasses if your child has sensory sensitivities. The website shares more ideas of comfort items for children.
  • Plan a reward. Give your child something to look forward to. Plan something special to do after their vaccine visit, like a trip to the park, dedicated play time with a favorite toy, or something else.

The website also includes suggestions on how to talk with children about the COVID-19 vaccine. For example:

  • Be honest with your child about getting the shot. Let them know they may feel a pinch or pressure from the needle.
  • Focus on the positives — explain how the vaccine keeps us all healthy.
  • Listen closely and clear up any confusion about what your child may have heard about the COVID-19 vaccine, whether true or untrue.
  • And for children who are nervous, let them know it’s OK, practice a calming exercise and make the car ride fun.

Juan C. Salazar, M.D., the hospital’s physician-in-chief, discusses why the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children in an online Q&A resource, updated frequently to reflect the latest news and information.