Tips before and after a child's immunisation

Some tips to make your baby or child more comfortable before and after their immunisation.

Before the appointment

  • Bring your Well Child Tamariki Ora book and make sure the doctor or nurse fills in the details, so that you have a record of your baby's immunisations.
  • Allow 20 minutes for waiting in the clinic after your child has been immunised, and bring any food or drink your child will need in this time.
  • If you are nervous, bring a family member or friend with you for support.
  • Babies under 12 months have most immunisations in the thigh.  For your appointment, choose clothes that you can remove or roll up easily.
  • Children with asthma, allergies or who are recovering from an illness such as a common cold can still be immunised.  Ask your doctor or nurse if you're not sure.
  • Bring a favourite rattle, toy, or book along as a distraction for older babies.

At the appointment

  • Ask the doctor or nurse if you have any concerns or worries
  • Tell the doctor or nurse how your baby reacted to any previous immunisations
  • Breastfeeding your baby while they are being immunised helps reduce the pain and will comfort them through the process.  Ask the nurse or doctor if they have somewhere private you can breastfeed the baby after the immunisation.
  • Talking with and cuddling your baby will help distract them from the injection and soothe them afterwards.
  • Babies and children can tell when their parents are anxious.  Your child will look to you for comfort and reassurance.

After their immunisation

If you are concerned about your child after their immunisation, contact your family doctor or nurse. You can also call Healthline 0800 611 116.

Here are some ways to make your baby or child more comfortable.

TLC

Give your child lots of cuddles and lots of fluids. If breastfeeding, give lots of feeds.

Reducing temperature

If your child gets hot, undressing them down to a single layer (for example a singlet and pants) can help. Make sure the room is not too hot or too cold.

Medication for temperature or pain

If your child is unsettled and miserable because of the fever, or seems to be in pain, you might consider giving them paracetamol or ibuprofen to make them feel more comfortable. You must follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. It is dangerous to give more than the recommended dose.

Routinely giving babies and children paracetamol before and repeatedly after immunisation just in case they feel unwell is not recommended. There is some evidence that paracetamol may reduce the effectiveness of childhood vaccinations.

Soothing pain

An ice pack wrapped well in a dry cloth, or better still a cool cloth, can be held over the injection site if it is sore.

Febrile convulsion

Very rarely, a child will have a febrile convulsion or a fit following immunisation.

If your child is having a convulsion:

  • don’t put anything in your child’s mouth
  • don’t put your child into a bath or shower to cool down
  • call your doctor, nurse or Healthline.

There is no easy way to prevent a febrile convulsion. Keep your child cool and comfortable if they have a fever.

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