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Vaccination tips for parents

Things you can do on the day

There are some things you could try that may help your child's vaccination appointment go smoothly.

Do

  • remember to take your personal child health record (PCHR) – in England this is usually known as the "red book"
  • call the practice or clinic to let them know if someone else is taking your child for vaccinations – or give the person a letter with your contact details
  • dress your baby in clothes that are easy to remove – babies under 12 months have injections in the thigh
  • dress toddlers and older children in loose or short sleeves – they'll have their injections in the arm
  • try to stay calm during the vaccination – it's natural to worry but it might make your child anxious and restless
  • let your child know what's going to happen in simple language – for example, "you may feel a sharp scratch that will go away very fast"
  • hold your child on your knee during the injection – if you're worried about seeing injections you could ask a nurse or another member of staff to hold them for you

Don't

  • do not rush to get to your appointment – giving yourself plenty of time can help you and your child avoid feeling stressed and anxious
  • do not be worried about speaking to the nurse or doctor – they can answer any questions you have about vaccination

What to expect after the appointment

Your baby or child may cry for a little while after a vaccination, but they should feel better after a cuddle.

Sometimes the area where the needle goes in can be sore and red for 2 to 3 days. This should go away on its own.

Some children may also develop a high temperature (fever).

How to treat a high temperature after vaccination

If your child develops a high temperature:

  • make sure they're not wearing too many layers of clothes or blankets
  • give them plenty to drink
  • give them liquid paracetamol or ibuprofen for children to bring their temperature down

It's recommended that you give your baby liquid paracetamol after the MenB vaccine to reduce the risk of a high temperature. This vaccine is given at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year old.

Make sure you follow the instructions that come with the medicine. If you're unsure, ask a pharmacist for advice.

Important

Do not give aspirin to children under 16 unless prescribed by a doctor.

Allergic reactions to vaccinations

It's rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to a vaccination. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.

The person who vaccinates you or your child will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately. With prompt treatment, your child will make a good recovery.

Read an NHS leaflet about the common side effects of vaccinations in babies and children and how to treat them (PDF, 118kb).

Non-urgent advice: Speak to your GP surgery or call 111 if:

  • you're worried about your child's reaction to a vaccination

Page last reviewed: 25 July 2019
Next review due: 25 July 2019