Pharmacy & Healthcare

How to make COVID vaccinations less scary for kids

From tips to treats, Walgreens offers suggestions to comfort your child before and after their COVID vaccine shots.
Steve Rausch, Walgreens Stories
Here’s the great news: Starting June 25, Walgreens will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 3 years and older at select stores following the latest CDC recommendation that kids as young as 6 months are eligible to receive the vaccine. The not-so-great news: Your child is afraid of shots (they’re not alone), and it’s sure to be an epic battle.

If you’re the parent of a young kid, you know how fraught it can be to have them anywhere near a needle. As a mom herself, and someone with years of experience vaccinating young kids, Walgreens pharmacist Emily Shafer knows this, too. Here are her pointers on how to prepare your child and make the experience a positive one for everyone:
  • Be honest and calm. Take time beforehand to explain to your child in simple terms what they can expect.
  • Let them know they’ll feel a pinch or sting, but that it will go away fast.
  • Avoid using words like pain or shot.
  • To safely prevent your child from moving during the injection, hold them on your lap and gently wrap your arms around them so they feel secure. If they’re tall enough to stand, hold them in front of you and anchor their legs between your legs.

Our pharmacy team will do everything they can to make the vaccination process easy and painless for your child, but sometimes kids just need a little extra comfort when they see a needle. Fortunately, Walgreens has plenty of options for anxious kids and anxious parents, whether it’s a pre-jab distraction or a post-vaccine reward. Or both.

  • Give them something soft to hug: When a child needs comfort, is there anything better than a soft, huggable toy? Popular Squishmallows check all the comfort boxes and will provide cuddly companionship to your child long after the shot.
  • Candy? Did somebody say candy? Both the ultimate distractor and the ultimate reward for anxious kids, Walgreens offers a huge selection of our own Nice! brand candy, while a Kinder Joy offers the double benefit of a treat and a toy in one. According to the CDC, tasting something sweet a few minutes before a shot can help lessen your little one’s pain response. Let your child pick their favorite on the walk back to the pharmacy, then indulge them before and after their shot.
  • Snacks are always a treat: Maybe your child prefers savory rather than sweet, and is better comforted by a salty snack instead. Well, we have those too, ranging from Nice! brand trail mix to chips. No matter what snack you choose, diving into a bag of something familiar they love to eat can help make the experience more tolerable for your child.
  • Distract with layered toys: 5 Surprise is the perfect distraction with five layers of mini surprises for kids. Odds are they won’t even make it through three layers before the shot is done (just have them take a brief break from playing during the shot itself).
  • Color their cares away: All Walgreens stores that administer vaccines will provide colorable superhero stickers and activity sheets and crayons to young ones. If a more extensive artistic experience is required for entertainment, a 288-page coloring book is also available. Rumor has it that’s how Picasso’s parents got him through his vaccinations.
  • Mark the occasion with a “Badge of Honor” photo: Walgreens will offer a free 5x7 photo post-jab for you to commemorate your kiddo’s bravest moment.
  • Treat post-injection side-effects: Sometimes a vaccination can result in a slight fever and discomfort for a child at the site of the injection, so to be prepared have an ice pack and Walgreens Children’s Ibuprofen ready, just in case.

Vaccination appointments can be scheduled through, the Walgreens app or by calling 1-800-Walgreens.