From the very beginning, my sons were so different. One of them was easygoing; when he had to get a shot, he cried for a few minutes, and then he was fine. His brother, on the other hand, started screaming the second the nurse got close with the needle, and he didn't stop screaming until we were back home.
I followed the standard vaccination schedule as my pediatrician advised, and I also have always gotten my sons — and myself — a yearly flu shot. This year is no exception. In fact, we got them yesterday.
I've always told my sons that a few seconds of pain are far better than days or weeks of sickness. This year, they did make a valid point for not getting a flu shot. "But, Mom, we're hardly going anywhere, and when we do, we wear masks. How could we catch the flu?"
"The symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar, so it would be problematic to get one and not know which it is," I explained. "Plus, I don't even want to think of how horrible it would be to have both at the same time!"
It's more important to get a flu shot this year than ever before. A study found that, for older people, every 10% increase in a county's flu vaccination was correlated with a 28% decrease in COVID-19 intensive care unit admissions. So, it's possible that there is some cross-reactivity. (The study controlled for general preventive health and still found the difference.)
Here's what our Mommy M.D.s — doctors who are also mothers — do to encourage their own families to get flu shots.
"Get your flu shot!" says Michelle Davis-Dash, M.D., a mom of two and a board-certified pediatrician in Baltimore. "This year will be almost imperative to get it to decrease the serious flu disease burden in the midst of the pandemic.
"For my kids, I just take them to get it and emphasize the importance of getting the shot to protect themselves and our community," Davis-Dash continues. "As a dual-physician family, my husband and I compete to see who gets the flu shot first!"
"It's not easy to watch your baby get shots," says Jeannette Gonzalez Simon, M.D., a mom of two daughters, a pediatric gastroenterologist in private practice, and the founder and CEO of Dr. Simon's Remedy, a line of natural products for your baby, in Essex County, New Jersey. "I'd just try to hold my baby down, soothe her as best I could and hope we got a nurse who was really quick!
"After it was over, I'd scoop my baby up and give her a big hug, and I always had her bottle ready," continues Simon. "My daughter was never a pacifier baby, but once she had her milk, she'd calm down really quickly."
"Since doctors began started giving 4-year-old booster shots in 1982, needle fear has risen as the number of boosters rose," says Amy Baxter, M.D., a mom of three, the CEO of the website Buzzy Helps and a National Institute of Health researcher based in Atlanta. "In fact, 63% of kids born in the year 2000 feared needles as preteens.
"To help my kids get over needle fear, I invented Buzzy, a device that uses cold and vibration to block the pain," Baxter continues. "It turns out that fear and focusing on the shot also play a big role, so they bring their own Buzzy to feel confident, and during the injection, I have them focus on counting something across the room. I also invented DistrACTION cards , which are used a lot in hospitals, but counting the number of fish or letters in a sentence or blue boxes in wallpaper works just as well."
Mommy MD Guides Recommended Product: Buzzy 4 Shots
Buzzy is a reusable device that eases the pain of shots, splinters and scrapes.
To use it, parents freeze the included ice pack and take it with them to the doctor's office in a cold to-go bag or sandwiched between two freezer packs. When the nurse is ready to give the shots, the freezer pack is slipped into an elastic band behind Buzzy, and the vibrator is switched on. The ice and vibration are applied together above the site of the shot.
Buzzy stays on during the injection to keep disrupting the pain signal in the nerves. You should leave Buzzy on the skin for at least 30 seconds before the shot or up to a minute or so for extra numbing for HPV or biologics, which can burn.
You can buy Buzzy online for $44.95 at the Buzzy 4 Shots website.
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Myriams-Fotos at Pixabay