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Immunization: A little pain for great gains

Immunization protects individuals and communities by preventing the spread of disease. As more people are immunized the disease risk for everyone is reduced. Immunization has probably saved more lives in Canada in the last 50 years than any other health intervention. - Immunize Canada

Although they used to represent a significant threat, today, infectious diseases cause less than 5% of all deaths in Canada – and that is thanks to all the people who take advantage of the immunization programs across the country.

If you are nervous about taking your baby for her/his first vaccinations, take a deep breath and relax. Children, even infants, can sense your anxiety and become anxious too. There’s a lot you can do to help make sure the experience is as painless as possible. It may also help to remember why immunizing your children is so important, especially when they’re very young. Although breastfeeding helps pass along your immunity to your baby, an infant’s system is just not prepared to defend against some common and potentially serious illnesses.

Is it time for a booster shot?

At about 6 years of age, children may be due for a booster shot – an immunization that helps maintain the immune defenses that your child’s body has developed from shots she/he received in previous years. Immunize Canada* offers a colouring book for children that provides easy to understand explanations that will help prepare them for their immunizations.

If you aren’t sure where to go, visit www.vaccines411.ca to find the clinic nearest you. A few days before the appointment, prepare your child by telling her/him what to expect. It’s important to be honest rather than telling your child it will not hurt. Explain that: A vaccination is given with a needle in the arm. It may feel like a pinch or pressure for a few seconds. We will do different things to keep it from bothering you too much. You can help by choosing a toy to help you feel more comfortable.

Easing your children through their shots – what Mothers can do

Before the injection:

Numb the skin with a topical anaesthetic (available without a prescription at most pharmacies). Follow product instructions; it takes 30 to 60 minutes for numbing to take effect. For children over one year of age, apply to the upper arm; for infants less than one year, apply the cream to the upper outer part of the leg. Treat both arms (or legs) if several injections will be given.

Before and after the injection:

  • Give your baby sugar water. You can also breastfeed or bottle feed, or offer a pacifier throughout the process.
  • Hold your child in a firm but gentle hug with the injection site exposed.
  • Rub or stroke your child’s skin near the vaccination site.
  • Soothe your baby by rocking, singing, or talking to her, or distract her/his attention away from the injection site with objects like toys or rattles.


Brought to you by vaccines411.ca – know where to go for your vaccinations.

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Read more Vaccines411® Articles


Note: the hyperlinks that direct to other sites are not continuously updated. It is possible that some links become untraceable over time. Thank you.

  1. Education matters: Immunize.ca. 
  2. FAQs - Vaccination - Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux.
  3. The 3 P’s of Helping your Child during Vaccinations. A Parent’s Guide: Children over 1 year old
  4. The 3 P’s of Helping your Child during Vaccinations. A Parent’s Guide: Babies up to 1 year old