SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Parenting expert and journalist Donna Tetreault speaks with ABC4’s Emily Clark about the anxieties surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations.

With the discovery of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, many parents are understandably concerned. When it’s time to vaccinate, your child may be feeling concerned and scared.

As parents, what are some things we can do to alleviate our children’s worries?

“Before the vaccine, adults should really reinforce to anxious kids that it’s okay to be afraid to get that shot,” says Tetreault. “In fact, 60% of kids ages 10 years and younger are scared of needles.”

It’s important to let your children know it’s perfectly normal to feel scared or anxious during this time.

“It’s really important to remind your child that vaccines help protect them from getting sick,” says Tetreault.

Being transparent about the process and letting your child express their feelings is the best way to soothe any worries.

When arriving at the doctor’s office, knowing your child’s behavior will ensure a calm experience. If your child is fidgety, let your doctor know. Offering a reward or treat afterward is a great way to encourage overcoming fears.

“Ask your provider to have your child sit up instead of lay down,” says Tetreault. “We know that children are more fearful when they have to lay flat.”

Holding your child still and assuring them with phrases of comfort such as, “I’m right here with you,” is a great way to soothe them. Letting your child bring their favorite teddy or lucky charm along for comfort is also an excellent idea.

Ultimately, vaccines are something everyone’s been through and parents frame the experience positively when discussing it with children.

“This is going to keep you safe,” says Tetreault. “This will let you play with your friends more, and be at school without masks.”

Practicing healthy coping strategies early on will allow your child to self-soothe and gain confidence in the future. To hear the full conversation, check out the video above.