Infants are at a much higher risk for serious health issues from diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. This is why it is important to immunize your child according to the schedule recommended by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. To provide your child with the best possible protection, immunizations are routinely offered at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age. Immunizations can be stressful for both infant and parent but there are many things parents can do to decrease this stress.

One important thing to remember for parents or caregivers is to remain calm. There are a number of reasons why parents might feel nervous about their baby’s immunizations and these feelings are normal. Reasons for feeling nervous could include not knowing what is going to happen during the appointment, worrying about the pain the immunization may cause, seeing their baby upset and, finally, concerns about immunization safety. A baby can sense when a parent is upset or nervous and this may cause the baby to get upset as well. If you are nervous or unsure about the appointment, discuss this with your primary health care provider or a public health nurse prior to the appointment and they will be able to discuss your concerns with you.

What’s going to happen during the immunization appointment at your local health unit?
Knowing what is going to happen during the appointment can help relieve some of the nervous feelings that parents might have. Here is an example of what typically happens at the first immunization appointment at your local health unit.

• Your baby will be weighed and measured, usually in the waiting area. This will be done by a nurse or a volunteer

• You will be asked to complete a Child Health Checklist. The checklist contains simple questions about your baby’s development. You are welcome to ask any questions you may have about your baby’s development at this time.

• The nurse will then tell you about the vaccines your baby is due for, what diseases they will be protected against, and the usual side effects such as a mild fever or a bit of soreness where the injection was given.

• You will have a chance to ask any questions you may have about the vaccines at this time.

• When you feel you have enough information about the vaccine, you will be asked to give your consent to proceed with immunizations to the nurse.

• The nurse will let you know how to best hold your baby so the immunizations are done safely.

• At the first appointment most babies get one oral vaccine (to protect against the rotavirus), which is done first and has a sweet taste to help lessen the pain response.

• The injections will be done in your baby’s legs, so you will be asked to undress your baby so that their legs are showing.

• You will be asked to wait for 15 minutes after your baby receives the immunizations just in case of the very rare chance they have an allergic reaction. The chance of this happening is 1 in 1 million.

How can I help comfort my baby?
Research has also shown there are ways a parent can help reduce pain for their baby during the immunization.

Here are some suggestions:
Presence of a parent or caregiver
• Have a familiar person hold the baby during the immunizations
• Use a cradle hold exposing the legs (immunizations for babies under one year of age are usually done in the legs)
• Change the baby’s position once the immunizations are finished
• Cuddle your baby

Diverting Attention
• Bring a toy, rattle, or book from home
• Sing a familiar song
• Blow bubbles
• Talk to your baby, tell them a story

Infant Feeding
• Breastfeeding or feeding by another method (expressed breastmilk or formula by bottle) comforts your baby and can be done before, during and/or after immunizations

• If feeding at the time of appointment is not an option for you, you can still comfort your baby by placing them close to you before, during and after the immunizations.

Want more information ahead of time?
Call your local health unit or see the below websites:
• Immunize BC
immunizebc.ca
• BC Centre for Disease Control
bccdc.ca
• Public Health Agency of Canada, Immunization and Vaccines
phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/index-eng.php
• Immunize Canada
immunize.cpha.ca/en/default.asx