If Your Child is Afraid of Needles, Try These Helpful Tips!

If your child is afraid of needles, getting them vaccines can be hard. You can help your child overcome their fear of vaccines using these tips. 

Before your vaccination appointment

  • Tell your child what will happen so they feel prepared. For example: “I know you’re afraid of getting a vaccine/poke, but we both need to get it to be healthy. It will hurt a little, so I’m going to help you be brave. When we get to the doctor, I’ll be right there with you. If you want, you can sit it in my lap or I can hold your hand. The person giving you the vaccine/poke will also help you feel ok. After you get your vaccine/poke, we’ll go to the park.”
  • Read children’s books about going to the doctor with your child. Visit your local library and ask the children’s librarian for help. Some titles include:
  • Play doctor with young children by helping them give vaccines (using pens) to their dolls and stuffed animals.

Cases of severe needle phobia can be treated with therapy. To learn more, talk with your child’s primary care provider (PCP) or call the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) ACCESS Call Center at 1-800-686-0101. TDD users call 1-800-943-2833

During your vaccination appointment

  • Your child may feel anxious at their PCP's office. Being relaxed (with loose muscles) will help it hurt less when the needle goes in. Help your child stay calm when they get the vaccine by: 
    • Hugging your child, holding their hand or stroking their hair.
    • Showing your child how to take slow, deep breaths. That can be part of a fun activity like blowing bubbles or a pinwheel.  
    • Taking your child’s mind off their fear. You can do this by reading them a favorite story or showing them a fun video on your phone. 

After your child’s vaccine

  • Praise your child for getting the vaccine. For example, you could say “You were so brave! You got the vaccine even though it hurt. I’m so proud of you!” 
  • Reward your child by taking them someplace fun or doing an activity they like.