Immunizations are one of the modern miracles of medicine. Some diseases, like polio, have been virtually eliminated because of the effectiveness of vaccinations. Still, it can be a bit nerve wracking for parents to watch their child suffer the pain of a shot, even when this minor pain is saving them from a lifetime of pain or early death. The following tips can give you the tools necessary to help your child after the vaccines are administered.
Tip #1: Leave the bandages on for 24 hours
Children often receive two or more vaccines at a time, usually in different arms. You may notice that the nurse places a bandage over the vaccine site and then writes a letter or two on the bandage with a marker. This letter indicates which vaccine was administered. This way, if your child does have a rare allergic reaction, the medical staff can quickly see which vaccine is causing it and administer the proper treatment. Therefore, it's best to keep the bandages on for at least 24 hours.
Tip #2: Encourage arm movement
Vaccination sites sometimes become sore, swollen, or slightly warm to the touch. These are not reasons to panic. Using the arm will help the vaccination move through the muscle tissue from the site, helping to prevent or alleviate these side effects. Encourage plenty of movement in the hours following the vaccine. Take older children to the park after the doctor's appointment. With babies, a little bit of tummy time or moving their arms around for them can help reduce discomfort.
Tip #3: Watch for reactions
The most common reactions to most vaccines are slight swelling or irritation around the vaccine site, or a mild fever. Your doctor will provide you with a fact sheet following the immunization that will inform you of the common reactions for the particular vaccine, along with a list of less common reactions that may require the help of a medical professional. Most of these reactions will occur within a few hours of the vaccine, so you just need to be slightly more vigilant for the first 24 hours after your child has received the shot.
Tip #4: Expect some down time
Some kids barely notice that they had a vaccine, while other become cranky or develop a mild fever. Both are completely normal reactions. The reaction can even change in the same child for each booster of the same vaccine. Plan for an evening in on the day of the vaccines. This way if your child is cranky or mildly feverish, they can simply turn in early for the night.
For more information, talk to your doctor about immunizations.