How do I talk to kids about vaccines?

Families/Kids Vaccines

A: Vaccination is very important for health in kids and adults alike! Even though COVID-19 vaccines aren’t authorized for most kids yet, there are lots of other vaccines that are super important!

Sadly, vaccination rates in children tanked during the pandemic and it is time we get caught back up. Talking to kiddos about vaccination can help them feel safe and ready for their vaccines. Below are a few tips to help you have this convo with the kids in your life.

📢 Start talking about vaccines with children at a very early age. Make this a normal part of health and nothing to be afraid of.

💻 Educate yourself. If you are prepared and confident, your kiddos will feel more prepared and confident too! The US @CDC has some great info for parents and adults here.

💯 Tell the truth, shots hurt. We want to be honest with our children and let them know that yes, the shot will hurt a little. The pain goes away quickly and can be treated with medicines if needed. Saying the shot won’t hurt damages their trust and makes the experience more difficult for everyone.

💪 Talk about how important vaccines are. Our bodies are super cool and do a great job keeping us safe from germs. Sometimes, though, our bodies need help! Vaccines teach our bodies how to fight those bad guy germs and help keep us from getting sick. If we aren’t sick, we can’t make other people sick and that helps protect the people we love from being sick too.

❓ Encourage questions. Kids are full of questions and encouraging them to ask their questions can help them feel good about getting vaccines. They may ask a question you don’t know the answer to, and that’s ok! This is a great opportunity to role model lifelong learning and look up new information together.

🏆 Praise their bravery and reward vaccination. Children look to the adults in their lives to figure out how to react to something. If you react positively (You did great! You are so brave! Your immune system is going to kick some germ butt!), your kids will react positively too! Be careful never to make vaccines a threat or a punishment (for example, “If you don’t behave, you will get a shot today”). Remind kids that it is ok to cry if it hurt. Crying is a normal response to pain. Offer rewards for getting their vaccines, like time together doing a fun activity, a new book, or stickers.

Vaccines are one of the most important public health interventions. The World Health Organization estimates that at least 10 million lives were saved between 2010 and 2015 and many millions more were protected from illness because of vaccines. Unfortunately, many kids did not get their vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. This puts us at risk for outbreaks of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines, like measles. Vaccines prevent infections that can cause serious illness, lifelong medical problems, and even death. As we prepare to start seeing COVID-19 vaccines become available to children, we need to prepare our kiddos for that vaccine as well.

Medical offices are open and ready to safely administer vaccines to people of all ages. Talk with your healthcare team about which vaccines are due for everyone in your family and help those kids in your life be ready (and maybe even excited) for their vaccines!


@WHO Power of Vaccines Article

@CDC MMWR Effect on COVID-19 Pandemic on Pediatric Vaccines

National Geographic Article on Talking to Kids About Vaccines

Children’s Hospitals of Philadelphia How to talk to your children about vaccines

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