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Immunisation Doesn’t Have to be Painful

June 9 2008

Immunisation Doesn’t Have to be Painful

There is no evidence to support the theory that giving your child oral pain killers will reduce the pain felt while having an immunisation. Studies have shown that it is not just the needle that causes pain during immunisations. Anxiety felt by the parent and the ‘build up’ that is created leading up to the immunisation can cause the immunisation to be more painful for the child.

It is well known that children can sense when an adult is uneasy or nervous, so when immunising your child ensure that you remain calm and relaxed. Be encouraging and make distractions. Your child may become more distressed if you overly reassure as that raises concern rather than distracting and helping them move on quickly. Paediatrician Marguerite Dalton says “you can reduce anxiety in your children with cuddles, distraction with toys, videos, moving lights and by telling stories. If you are confident, your child will be too.”

Parents who show more positive 'coping' behaviours can reduce babies’ pain around immunisation more effectively than paracetamol before the immunisation. Behaviours to avoid as a parent are: criticism, apologies, empathy and giving control to the child.

Anaesthetic creams such as EMLA can help reduce the pain for procedures such as a blood test or inserting an intra-venous line. Unfortunately, they are of limited use with immunisations because there is a small window of time when they are effective, some people develop skin rashes and there is a cost to buying the cream.

In addition to a confident parent’s support, it may be that fast injections are important to reduce the pain of immunising young children. They are under less stress and a Canadian researcher showed recently there is considerably less pain when the injection takes place.


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