Make Vaccines Fun, Not Scary: 5 Ways to Ease Children’s Vaccine Fears

As a parent, you’re doing your job and making sure your kid gets the Center for Disease Control’s full recommended vaccination schedule on time. The problem? Even though immunizations save lives, shots can be scary! By following these five steps, you can make sure your child’s vaccination experience is as smooth as possible.

1. Use Kid-Friendly Materials

There are a ton of resource that explain immunizations in ways kids will understand. We love this animated video that explains how vaccinations work. For younger kids, Every Child By Two has coloring book on its website. These materials will help kids understand why the shots are important, while connecting vaccines with fun activities and colorful characters.

2. Don’t Give Too Much Away

It might seem smart to warn kids that they have a shot coming up, but that will just stress them out more. If they know they have a doctors appointment, but don’t ask about shots, there’s no need for you to bring it up. If they ask, be honest, but vague: if you don’t know, say you don’t know. If the answer is yes, go on to step three.

3. Be Honest

Hopefully, your kids didn’t find out about the shot until the appointment. Either way, it’s important to tell them the truth about the doses. Tell them the shot will hurt, but just for a little bit, and that it’s to protect them. Remind them of the videos and coloring books. Tell them this is happening because you love them, not as a punishment. The shots they’ll get will help make them strong against diseases — like a super power! 

4. Distract Them

While the shot is being administered, give your kids something else to focus on. Hold their hand, or give them a new toy to play with. For older kids, you can tell them to imagine something fun (like a birthday party or playing a favorite game). If possible, play their favorite cartoon (on a TV, phone, or tablet) while the shot is being administered.

5. Play It Cool

It’s important to remember that, no matter what, your child might be scared of the shots — it’s only natural. We know it can be hard to see your child cry, but it’s your job to say calm as you getting emotional will only escalate the situation. After you’ve prepared the child and distracted them, it’s time to let the medical staff do their jobs. Be ready with a smiling face when it’s done, and know that you’re doing what’s best for your child.

6. Stick to the Schedule
As parents, it’s tempting to space out your children’s shots—after all, telling kids they have to receive four shots in one appointment sounds awfully intimidating. But it’s essential that you stick to the CDC schedule: It’s designed to offer your children the most protection possible. Plus, research shows that children experience the same amount of stress regardless of how many shots they’re receiving. In other words, one shot is every bit as scary as four; you might as well take the safest and most effective route.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to help make getting shots easier for your child? Let us know in the comments!

Simple Ways to Create a Vaccine-Friendly Workplace

As a manager or business owner, you have a lot to take care of. Quarterly reviews? Check. Employee of the month? Chosen. Vaccines? Didn’t think you had to worry about that? It’s vital that everyone sticks to the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule, and you have a unique chance to make it easy and affordable for your employees to be up to date.  Here are three concrete steps you can take to make your workplace as vaccine friendly as you are.

Give Your Employees Information
Putting information in front of your employees is one of the simplest and most valuable ways you can help the cause. This CDC handout includes a quiz that reveals what vaccines someone might need; encourage employees to use it to start a conversation with a healthcare professional. You can also syndicate the CDC’s adult immunization schedule on your website—it’ll appear under the banner. The schedule will automatically update when the CDC changes; employees and customers will always see the latest info.

Check Your Insurance
Take a look at your employee insurance plan. Does it cover vaccines? Which ones? Are there copays? Consider upgrading to a plan that fully covers immunizations. You’ll cover your losses because your employees will take fewer sick days. If you choose not to update, make sure your employees know about the gap in coverage. You should also point them to affordable vaccination options—like pharmacies and clinics—in your community.

Don’t Forget the Flu Shot!
The influenza vaccine is one of the CDC’s least adhered to recommendations, and you’re in a prime position to change that. Make sure employees know what the options are for their annual dose: doctor’s offices offer them, pharmacies and clinics are great places to get the dose too.  Allowing employees to leave work to get the shot is a great way to increase coverage.  Even better? Host a flu shot clinic on site. It’ll actually save you money, as a dose at a clinic is cheaper than the doctor’s office, and it serves up maximum convenience to your employees. Call your local pharmacy to get more information about hosting a flu shot clinic. 

7 Excuses for Skipping the Flu Shot—Debunked

Molly pic

Planning to skip your flu shot?  The CDC recommends everyone six months or older get vaccinated at some point during flu season, yet only 42.2 percent of adults received their flu vaccination during the 2014-2015 season. Why? We can think of at least seven common excuses—and bust them all.

“I Never Get Sick!”
Well, there’s a first time for everything. Plus, flu shots protect other people, too. You could carry the virus without having symptoms and pass it on to someone else. If that person’s a young child or older adult, they could be in big trouble: both groups are at a higher risk for flu complications than the general population. So if you don’t do it for you, do it for grandma or your best friend’s new baby. 

“I’m Allergic to Eggs!”
Yes, the influenza vaccine is made using an egg-based manufacturing process that has been in existence for more than 70 years. However, new research indicates that it is safe for most people with egg allergies to receive the shot (though a physician should be present when you get it).  There are also new versions of the shot that use animal cells rather than eggs, removing the risk entirely.

“It Doesn’t Work!”
Because the flu virus mutated early in the season, the 2014 flu shot had just a 14 percent effectiveness rate. That has a lot of people saying the flu shot isn’t worth the trouble. But the shot is 50-60 percent effective most years, and reducing your risk of severe symptoms by more than half is nothing to scoff at. Plus, even when the vaccine doesn’t protect you fully, it can make symptoms less severe and increase herd immunity.

“I Got it Last Year!
Influenza is constantly mutating, and the shot is adjusted every year to protect against new strains of the virus. Plus, your body’s response to immunization lessens as time goes on. Therefore, an annual shot is essential.

“I’m Pregnant!”
Although pregnant women shouldn’t get their dose via the mist or spray, the inactivated flu shot is perfectly safe. Also, pregnant women are at a greater risk for complications from the flu, as are their unborn child. The dose is vital to protecting you and your baby.


“I Waited Too Long!”
Flu season starts in early October and usually peaks in January; because the vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective it’s best to get the dose sooner rather than later. But outbreaks can happen as late as May, so missing your yearly dose early on is no reason to skip. Some protection is better than none.

“I’m Scared of Needles!”
If needles give you the creeps, you still have two options. The intradermal flu shot is injected into the skin; though it does have a needle, it’s much smaller than most vaccines—and it’s safe for anyone 18 to 64 years old. Still too much? The nasal spray vaccine has no needles at all, and it’s safe for anyone 2 to 49 years old.


Texas Vaccination Rates Drop Drastically: We Must Protect Our Children


By Lindy McGee, MD 

Texas received some startling news last month. Vaccination rates among Texas children aged 19 to 35 months old fell by an alarming 8.5 percent in 2014. This drop in adherence rates is not only concerning to pediatricians such as myself, but should concern every Texas resident. This is a serious wake-up call as these under-protected toddlers head off to kindergarten in the next two years.

The data surfaced in the 2014 National Immunization Survey, the Center for Disease Control’s annual assessment of immunization rates across the country. In 2013, 72.5 percent of children 19 to 35 months old had received their required vaccinations on time; in 2014, only 64 percent of children the same age had adhered to the CDC’s required dosage.

Rates vary by region, but have fallen across the board: Houston adherence sat at 70.4 percent, compared to 77.8 percent in 2013; and in Bexar County, rates fell from 70.6 to  66.4 percent.

What does this mean for Texas? It’s not good news, if outbreaks nationwide are any indication. The measles outbreak earlier this year at Disneyland infected 117 people. And tragically, in July the U.S. saw its first confirmed measles death since 2003, when a young Washington woman died of measles-triggered pneumonia. Physicians across Texas were on alert.

We need to eliminate gaps in our vaccine delivery system, ensure that parents and guardians are well-informed about vaccines, and make known the importance of adhering to the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule. Missed opportunities due to inconsistent utilization of immunization information technology, such as reminder recall systems, contributes to decreased immunization rates. Low Hepatitis A rates are likely pulling down the overall numbers—the vaccine requires two doses, six months apart, making it easy to miss subsequent appointments.

It is everyone’s responsibility—me, my colleagues, our patients’—to make sure these rates don’t continue to decline. We must better explain to parents how the vaccine schedule is structured and why it is important to keep all clinic appointments.We can help parents by following up with appointments and remind to stay on schedule‚especially for multi-dose treatments. It’s not only critically important to start the vaccine series but also to finish the series on time. A child is not fully protected against these deadly diseases until the series is complete.

The stakes are getting higher; lower childhood immunization rates coupled with disease resurgence leaves Texas vulnerable. We must work diligently together to protect Texas from significant consequences to the state’s public health.

Additional sources:


Behind on Your Vaccines? 4 Steps to Get Back on Track—Safely

Did you miss one, some, or all of the immunizations on the Center for Disease Control’s recommended vaccination schedule? It’s not too late. Follow these steps to get up to date in a safe, timely manner.

Determine What You’re Missing
The CDC has great resources to help you determine the vaccines you need. Use this chart or questionnaire to see what immunizations you should have. If possible, get access to your medical records to find out what doses you missed. If you don’t have access to medical records, try to remember what doses you have (but be sure to disclose this to a healthcare professional before you start a new regimen). A parent or guardian might help you track down these records, or confirm that you’re remembering correctly.  

Determine Your Risks
You may have a  health condition or demographic status that makes certain shots riskier for you than the general population. For example, those 65 and older should avoid the intradermal flu shot, while pregnant women should avoid many vaccines until after birth. It’s vital to  determine how your age, health, and lifestyle might put you at risk before getting vaccinated.

Talk to a Healthcare Professional
It’s a must to talk to a doctor, nurse, or other health professional before you begin your new vaccination regimen. Bring in your list of risk factors, missed shots, and any questions you have after doing your research. Together, the two of you can determine what shots you need and when you need them.

Get Vaccinated!
Congratulations, you’re ready to go! Ask the healthcare professional about the best places in your community to get the immunizations you need. Doctors’ offices, clinics, and pharmacies are great places to start. Worried about paying for all these doses? Check out our guide to paying for vaccines when you’re uninsured or underinsured.

Fascinating Vaccine Ted Talks to Watch Now (And Share With All Your Friends Later)

People are addicted to TED Talks, and it’s no wonder why: Industry experts of all stripes explain ideas that excite them in easy-to-understand terms—and inspire us all to try and change the world. There’s no easier way to learn the latest on any topic, including vaccinations. Start with these 4 talks to become a more informed, up-to-date immunization advocate.

Seth Berkely: The troubling reason why vaccines are made too late… if they’re made at all

Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, explains why there was no Ebola vaccine to help stop the recent outbreak—and what that can teach the immunization community. The crisis demonstrated many important points: how we should prepare for diseases, the danger of taking vaccines for granted, and how scientific findings about one disease (like the flu) can help inform immunizations for another (like Ebola). Finally, he points to the way forward in the fight against global disease.

Dr Adam Finn: How Vaccines Work 

Dr. Adam Finn explains what really makes vaccines work—not just individual immunity, but the herd immunity that is created when a whole community is protected. Using the history of whooping cough epidemics throughout the 20th century, he shows how herd immunity can eradicate diseases, and how those diseases can come roaring back when vaccinations rates fall. But, he says, there is hope. Just like humans can spread disease, we can spread ideas. This talk will help you spread the idea that vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

Brude Aylward: How We’ll Stop Polio For Good 

The polio vaccine is one of the immunization community’s greatest success stories. Thanks to the immunization, the deadly disease is now completely eradicated in the U.S. But, that’s not the case everywhere, as Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization, reminds us. While celebrating how much good the dose has done, he explains how much work is still left and lays out a plan to wipe out the disease for good.

Adam Grosser-A Mobile Fridge for Vaccines 

Vaccine access is taken for granted in the U.S, but many developing nations don’t have the infrastructure to make sure residents can receive these lifesaving  doses. One of the biggest obstacles: Vaccines need to be kept at a cold temperature, and many remote villages don’t have electricity needed to power refrigerators. Adam Grosser, general partner at Foundation Capital, has created a potential solution—a refrigerator that works without electricity.


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Simple Ways to Get Essential Vaccines, Despite Your Ability to Pay

It’s easy to think that you can’t afford vaccines you want and need. But it’s vital that everyone—despite your insurance plan—stick to the Center for Disease Control’s recommended vaccination schedule. The good news? Whether for a child, adult, or senior, plenty of resources can help you find affordable vaccines.  Here are four:

Vaccines for Children
Here’s the best news: Children are covered under the Vaccines for Children Program. Run by the CDC, VFC gives immunizations to kids at no cost to them or their parents. VFC will help  anyone under 19 who is eligible for Medicaid, uninsured, underinsured, or is of native American or Alaskan descent.

Free clinics
Many—but not all—free clinics provide vaccines (check with your local one). Even when they don’t, they’re an invaluable resource in your hunt for affordable doses. Workers at free clinics are experts on local health care options. With their on-the-ground knowledge, they can point you to the best local resources to get the protection that you need. Free clinics may also have a mobile unit that will travel to your neighborhood for easy access. 

Community Health Centers
Community Health Centers provide access to comprehensive and affordable healthcare right in your community. Some community health centers may charge for vaccines, but it’s often done on a sliding scale based on your ability to pay.  Check the HRSA site to see if there’s a Community Health Center near you.

There are a few ways to get vaccinated at a pharmacy. Pharmacists might administer the vaccines themselves, or doctors might be on hand to provide the immunization (either temporarily or by hosting a clinic on an ongoing basis). Vaccines administered by the pharmacist usually have an affordable, all-inclusive price. If the pharmacy hosts a doctor, however, you may be charged for the vaccine and for the clinic visit. Check before sitting down for the appointment.


National Survey Finds Texas Vaccination Rates Dropped Alarmingly: You Can Help #ProtectTexas

Vaccination rates among Texas children ages 19–35 months fell by an alarming 8.5 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to the just-released National Immunization Survey, the Center for Disease Control’s annual assessment of immunization rates.

Vaccine adherence among Texas children aged 19-35 months of age was 64 percent in 2014, compared to 72.5 percent in 2013. The National Immunization Survey is conducted annually and measures children’s adherence to the Center for Disease Control’s recommended vaccination schedule at the state and community levels.

Together, we can take steps to reverse this trend:

  • Identify vaccination gaps: Discuss your child’s vaccination schedule with a pediatrician, as it’s easy to miss certain vaccines, especially those that require multiple doses.
  • Check your coverage: Call your insurance company to see which vaccines are offered under your current plan. If you have any questions, discuss with your insurance provider or clinician’s office.
  • Contact your local immunization coalition: Your local coalition offers resources to make vaccination information easily accessible; check in with them to find vaccine schedules, educational resources, information on receiving appropriate immunizations, and ways to get involved in your community.
  • Broadcast your concern: Use the #ProtectTexas hashtag on Facebook and Twitter to tell the world why you vaccinate your family—and why it’s important that everyone do the same.

5 Reasons You Should Get a Flu Shot Every Year (Even If You Never Get the Flu)

It’s almost flu season, the time of year when flu viruses are circulating at higher than normal levels in the U.S. It can begin as early as October, and go as late as May. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months or older to get vaccinated at some point during flu season—yet we all know people who shrug their shoulders and say, “eh, I never get the flu. It’s not worth my time.”

In fact, only 42.2% of adults received their flu vaccination during the 2014-2015 season. That annual shot may seem like an afterthought, but it’s vital to your health, and to the health of the public at large. Here’s why:

  1. It’s Gross To start, having the flu is just nasty. If you get it, your best case scenario is a combination of fever, sores, aches, chills, and stomach issues. It will make you less productive at work and will put a damper on your social life. That’s reason enough to do everything you can to prevent it.
  2. It’s Fatal (Sometimes) Don’t forget: The flu can put you in the hospital or, worse yet, be fatal. The outcome is rare for young, healthy people, but it’s possible. Why risk it?
  3. It Protects Others Even if you aren’t at risk personally, you can protect others by getting your flu shot. A whopping 90 percent of flu deaths are those 65 or older; widespread vaccination protects this group. Do it for your grandma.
  4. It Lessens Fatalities Flu vaccinations effectively reduce severe outcomes. In the 2011-2012 flu season, vaccines were associated with a 71 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages, and a 77 percent reduction among adults 50 years of age and older.
  5. It’s Different Every Year Yeah, it’s annoying to get a flu shot every year. But it’s essential for two reasons: The antibodies produced in your body from the vaccine decline as time goes on, so the shot is less likely to protect you a year after receiving it.  And flu viruses mutate rapidly. Because of this, the formulation of the vaccines is reviewed each year and updated to protect against new strains. An annual shot is necessary to keep a fever, or worse, from ruining your holidays.

Because the flu is so nasty and spreads so quickly, the CDC and healthcare professionals urge people to be vaccinated as early as possible. Ideally, you should be vaccinated by October, because the shot takes two weeks before it is fully effective. A lot of people don’t get the shot during this initial push, and they think it’s too late. But the shot will be offered at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers throughout flu season; it’s never too late. Not being immunized early is no reason to sit out the whole year. Most flu seasons peak in January or later, so there is plenty of time to get the shot and be protected against the worst of it.

The flu shot is a crucial part of your health regimen. If you have a regular doctor or nurse, talk to them about getting one ASAP.  If you don’t see a healthcare professional regularly, there are a lot of other options. Pharmacies, urgent care clinics, and the health centers at your college or workplace are good places to look. Any option works as long as you get the shot.

Vaccines Every College Student Needs Before the First Day of Class

study-763571_1280Books, furniture, student ID…vaccines? If you’re heading to college for the first time, immunizations should be at the top of your to-do list. College students live in close quarters, and young adults are also due for boosters on many vaccines they received during childhood. Make sure you’re up to date on the CDC’s entire recommended schedule by talking with a healthcare professional. Start by asking about these five:

This vaccine protects against bacterial meningitis, which inflames the protective membrane around the brain and spinal chord and can have life threatening consequences. The disease can be spread when people are in close quarters, so if it’s your first year on a college campus, definitely make sure you’ve received this vaccine. If you already received it as a child, you’re not off the hook; you should get a booster if you got the shot before your 16th birthday. 


This vaccine protects against, tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), and the CDC recommends it for kids, adults, and pregnant women during the third trimester. One dose of Tdap is routinely given at age 11 or 12. If you didn’t get Tdap then, you should get it as soon as possible. A Td vaccine protects against tetanus and diptheria, and a booster is recommended for every 10 years. Students that took time off between high school and college may be due for their next dose.


If you did not get all three doses of this immunization at 11 or 12, when the CDC recommends it, you should be sure to get it before starting college. The vaccine protects against cervical cancer in women and cancer of the throat, anus, and penis in men, but only 34.4 percent of adolescent girls and 20.1 percent of adolescent boys have received all three doses. Though it’s most effective when administered as a preteen, women under 27 and men under 22 should still receive the vaccine. If you’re outside that age range, you should discuss your options with a healthcare professional.


Flu shot
The CDC recommends an annual flu shot for everyone. College students are especially vulnerable to the illness; you’ll be living in close quarters, sharing bathrooms and workout facilities, and likely not getting enough sleep. But there’s good news: The flu vaccine works best among healthy young adults. If you stay up to date you’ll keep that missed class and social time to a minimum.


Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B can result in long-term consequences for your liver. It’s a blood-borne illness, so it can be transmitted through contact with an infected person’s blood, semen, or other bodily fluids. Again, the close quarters rule applies; there’s simply a greater chance of this happening on a college campus, so prevention is key. Most babies receive the Hep B vaccine before leaving the hospital, but if you did not receive it as a baby, you will want to discuss with your doctor. 


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