The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

How to help your kids navigate vaccination process

  Kezia Kitonga, a lab technologist at Jomvu Sub-county hospital takes a child through vaccination NTD World Day. (Jayne Rose Gacheri, The Standard)

Jerusha Atieno is a mother of three – two girls and a boy, aged between four and 10 years. She says one thing she dreads (in the past and now), is that time when she has to take her children for vaccination, something she too has a phobia for. 

She says it does not matter how the vaccines are administered (orally, intranasal, subcutaneous, and intramuscular), “there is always something uncomfortable about the process, whatever the age of children.”

While taking the children for vaccines in their babyhood, she says, she would wince and close her eyes when the kids were getting their vaccines.

“At the health facility I would almost cry with them, as they writhed in pain, as the syringe pricked their flesh, or when the healthcare provider administered the vaccine through their nose or mouth, watching them winch in pain, or discomfort, at times throwing out the medication would make me hate the processes,” says Atieno. 

She recollects one such agonising moment when she had to take her five-year-old daughter for the diphtheria Pertussis & Tetanus (DPT) vaccine, and the nurse had a rough time locating her vein for the intramuscular administration of the drug. 

She almost asked the nurse to stop the process, as she helped her daughter firmly, amidst her cries and her questioning why a mother would let her child go through such torture and pain. 

Atieno represents parents who share similar stories of nightmares, not only for children but also for young adults’ ordeals when going through vaccination processes, some of which are mandatory. 

“I have seen the full range of emotions from children facing vaccinations: bravery, bargaining, tantrums, fear, and tears, and I do understand as some of the processes in which the vaccines are administered are tough,” says Lydia Karambu, a healthcare provider in Meru.

She explains that children would be less nervous if adults are matter-of-fact about vaccines. She says that part of her job is to take parents through what they do to prepare their young children for vaccines and shots.

She explains the process and the need to have vaccines for older children.

 “I start by relating them to medical treatments that they are already familiar with, explaining that there are some medicines that we take when we are sick to help us feel better and that vaccines are like medicine that we need to take to keep us from getting sick in the first place,” says Karambu. 

Daniel Mutheu, a father of four boys aged between 4 and 12 years old, says he took time to find out about vaccine administration after two of his sons went through a scary ordeal at age 4 and 6 years during the administration of their IPV (poliovirus vaccine) and MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines. 

“Now if my boys have to get shots, I first consider their unique personalities – what are their fears? What comforts them? I try to use this information to help them understand vaccinations — such as shots for the flu, chicken pox, COVID, etc. — not only to prepare them for an upcoming shot but also to prepare them for taking charge of their health in the future,” says Mutheu. 

Lydia says she has set aside time when she runs sessions to help families have these conversations, not only during hospital visits but whenever she gets a chance to do so during church sessions and other public spaces 

Through experience, she says, she has found that by addressing their (children’s fear, and acknowledging their feelings or talking to them about their role in protecting others, children feel less scared about getting a shot. 

She shares the following guidelines to help parents make vaccination a seamless process. 

Address children’s fear of the unknown.

Fear of vaccinations stems from fearing the unknown. It helps to discuss the facts for children (and grown-ups). “Luckily, the science behind vaccines is surprisingly easy to explain,” says Lydia. 

The healthcare provider advises parents to let their children know it is OK to be scared. She advises parents to explain to their children that vaccinated persons have a lower chance of becoming sick or infected, and when they get infected, they will have a milder case. 

“By explaining to your child that they are doing their part to keep their community safe and that they are part of something bigger, it may make it easier for them to be brave,” she says.

Related Topics


Trending Now


Popular this week