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How to prepare your kid to get the COVID-19 vaccine: B.C doctor

Vancouver -

The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines for kids has arrived in Canada and B.C. is gearing up for the next phase in its immunization program.

Last week, Health Canada announced its approval of Pfizer-BioNTech's two-dose vaccine for children ages five to 11. The vaccine will be a smaller dose that what's given to those aged 12 and older. B.C. officials have said the province will be receiving enough doses to vaccinate the 360,000 children in that age category as soon as possible.

In the meantime, parents are being urged to register their children to get their first shot and to prepare them for the process itself.

"Most kids actually have at least some hesitancy or some anxiety about needles and a lot of adults as well," Dr. Katelynn Boerner from UBC and BC Children's Hospital told CTV Morning Live Tuesday.

"Preparation is a huge part of this. Kids like to know what's going to happen and they like to have some control over it."

Boerner recommended rehearsing with kids and explaining what the process will look like. Parents can tell them they'll have to sit in a chair, roll up their sleeves and have their arms swabbed before the shot.

It's also a good idea to plan some distractions together. Boerner recommended asking kids what they want to do while getting their shot, whether it's looking at something else, watching a video or having someone walk through the process with them.

"Parents, you know your kids best. So whatever you think is going to be most distracting for them in the moment and maybe have a couple of options if something's not working," Boerner said.

Boerner said distractions won't just help reduce anxiety, but can reduce pain as well. It's also important to make sure kids are in comfortable position while getting their shots, she said. And, of course, a treat for after the shot can always help.

"The key is in the preparation so that nothing is coming as a surprise because uncertainty and surprise just heighten that anxiety," she said. "So anything you can do in advance to plan ahead." 

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