Do you warn your kids about shots or just take them?

Rose had a check up recently and our sweet doctor said, “Hey let’s just get your flu shot out of the way today.” (It would have saved me a co-pay doing it then.) Well Rose freaked out!

Normally she is fine getting shots but I also generally tell them ahead of time “We are going to get your flu shots. I will get one too.” And we usually all do it together in one fail swoop and then quickly get ice cream afterwards.

Well that day, she wasn’t having it. It was such an unusual response from her that I just backed off and said, “OK we don’t have to do it right now. But we are doing it at some point.”

When we got to the car, she was still upset and she says with all clarity “All I ask is fair warning!”

I thought this was a reasonable request, and I will warn her before we go.

Do you generally tell your kids when they are getting shots – immunizations or flu shots? Do they do better knowing ahead of time or are they better to spring it on them? What order do you usually do it? Do you start with the scared ones first or the brave ones first?

41 comments Add your comment


September 27th, 2011
12:13 pm

I tell my son ahead of time so he doesn’t freak out at the doctor. It makes the appointment more dreadful, though, because he gets anxious, but at least he doesn’t run screaming from the surprise. Flu shots we all get as a family, which helps, because he can see mom and dad getting ours, so it makes him braver. But with the immunizations, I was always upfront with him, and that usually worked. Of course he’d cry about it, but at least he didn’t feel like I lied to him.

Jesse's Girl

September 27th, 2011
12:15 pm ……….

hopefully this link works. Just something to think about. Our kids have never had a flu shot and very rarely get sick with anything other than allergy related cold stuff.


September 27th, 2011
12:23 pm

There’s a flip side to that Jesse’s Girl…My family very rarely gets sick either. But the one year we didn’t get flu shots, both my husband and myself got the flu and were extremely miserable. I won’t be going through that again!


September 27th, 2011
12:37 pm

That wouldn’t have flown with me. Basically that temper tantrum would have cost me $30. No dice.

And that’s not saying my kid wouldn’t have freaked. What I am saying is that crying or not, that shot would have happened. Sometimes we have to deal with life’s little difficulties.


September 27th, 2011
12:42 pm

I always told her, “we are going to the doctor, and you are getting a shot. It will hurt, but only for a minute, and I’ll be right there with you.” But I’m blessed with a very healthy child, and she hasn’t had to have any shots, except for the required ones. She did get a meningialcocus (I can’t spell that word) shot when she went to college. That was in the muscle, and it hurt her for a few days, but she got over it!

I haven’t had a flu shot since 1993, and have never had the flu. My daughter has NEVER had a flu shot, and has NEVER had the flu….we very rarely get sick. We eat healthy, and get plenty of exercise. and wash, wash, wash our hands!!!!


September 27th, 2011
12:48 pm

DD’s too young to get a vote or fair warning, but I think I would rather set the expectation going to the doctor that she will likely get shot X. I keep up with the required shots so I should know what’s due. But if something came up unexpectedly and I agreed she needed it, she would get it – tantrum or not.

@Lori – I like the idea of getting flu shots together. We’ll probably go that route this year (avoid the co-pay for each of us) at CVS or Walgreen’s. Hubs gets his for free at work, so I only worry about the 2 of us.

I’ve never had the flu, but hear it is nasty. Since DD is in preschool, flu goes around multiple times each year. I’d just as soon skip it for both of us, so we get the shot.


September 27th, 2011
12:57 pm

My daughters and I all get the flu shot every year at Walgreens. They really like the nurse there. The first year we went, she said that she used an extra-small needle, so it didn’t hurt as much. They believed her, still believe her, and would likely pitch a fit if I tried to go elsewhere.

I never got the flu shot until my older daughter starting getting them. She is at risk due to asthma and other respiratory issues. Part of the deal with her is that I also get one, along with her sister, and then we all go out for a treat.

I’d rather do the flu shot than risk having her end up in the hospital with complications.


September 27th, 2011
1:00 pm

@Jesse’s Girl, I can’t access FB where I am, but I’m taking a wild guess that the page suggests that their kids have never had the flu without the vaccine and they know some people that got the sho and got the flu.

Empirical data would suggest that kids aren’t getting the flu because many people around them are being inoculated thus stopping the spread of the virus.

If I missed the point of the FB page, I apologize in advance.


September 27th, 2011
1:01 pm

I didn’t tell my 4 yr old that he was getting 7 shots + 1 flu nasal spray on his b’day. It was a good thing. I think I’ll tell him this year when he turns 5. He’s big enough to take it :)


September 27th, 2011
1:02 pm

To the point of the TWG’s question, we always tell them. My daughter usually freaks out a little, and my son pretends to.


September 27th, 2011
1:26 pm

When it is time for a shot, we got them, no discussion. Someone may not have been happy, but it was not an hour-long pain, after all. I am afraid I would have said to Rose, “Here is your notice. You are getting a flu shot now.” No $30 wait for us. If it was something awful, like having your wisdom teeth out, THEN I would expect some notice. But for 5 seconds of pain? No. You gotta be matter of fact, Theresa.


September 27th, 2011
1:28 pm

If I missed the point of the FB page, I apologize in advance.

I googled the title. It’s not necessary to apologize to anti-vax nuts, they don’t give a flying flip about your kids.


September 27th, 2011
1:37 pm

Jarvis, here’s a link that doesn’t require you to log onto FB. I’m with JG on this one. My son’s family got the flu shot two years ago and every body got sick from it. why our family wont be getting a flue shot


September 27th, 2011
1:38 pm

The whimping down of America! Liberals have no cause but lots of effect.


September 27th, 2011
1:46 pm

I prep them well beforehand if they’re getting shots. Well, all except the three year old. But I’ll be letting her know about it if she starts having a problem with it. With 2 of my kids having sensory issues and on the autism spectrum, it’s just not worth all the hassle when it’s sprung on them. My son freaked way out when he had to get a shot a few months ago and he’s just too big to be doing that anymore. Physical restraint is hard when they get nearly as big as you are. :) But he did much better last time when he was prepared more and was also able to bring his Nintendo DS with him. I only had to do like a firm hug while he played on his DS to get two shots.


September 27th, 2011
2:01 pm

Yearly exams typically warranted a heads up that “you could be getting a shot” but that was only because they would ask the question. I’ve never had any issues with my boys throwing fits or crying about getting their shots.

We don’t get flu shots.


September 27th, 2011
2:05 pm

Yes, we always told ours they were getting shots – ahead of time. The “All I ask is fair warning” does seem reasonable.
And, I think the phrase is “One Fell Swoop” instead of “fail” —

Lady Strange

September 27th, 2011
2:10 pm

I never warned my son in the past. He’s never had a flu shot though, just the required vaccines. He already associates the doctor with getting a shot. I got the flu earlier this year and I had a flu shot. Probably won’t bother getting a shot this year.

Lady Strange

September 27th, 2011
2:12 pm

Oh and if it was my kid, they would have gotten the shot anyway, freaking out or not.


September 27th, 2011
2:14 pm

How old is Rose again? I can understand your youngest freaking out, but Rose is in elementary school I think. I always matter-of-factly tell my son that he’s getting his flu shot at his well child visit, which happens around his birthday in the fall. We’ve had no issues. If you just talk to your child and not assume they’ll freak, you might be surprised at how they handle it.


September 27th, 2011
2:21 pm

My son had allergy shots several times per week, when he was in preschool. It was simply something he had to do. I had taken the flu shot on and off for years BUT when a friend in Kindergarten got VERY sick a few years ago ( flu related) I became religious about getting my shot and will get it next week. The friend was sick for a LONG time and still has residual bronchial issues years later. She coughs most any time I speak with her. Which would be very difficult for me to endure, with my job. Some things you just have to do and there is really no way to make them pleasant..can we say pap smear or mammogram?

Roni Shortcakes

September 27th, 2011
2:31 pm

My son is too young to understand/need a warning but in the future I will always approach check-ups with the “and you may get a shot” philosophy. If it were me in this situation Rose would have gotten her shot, but not so much because of the saved copay. Instead it would be for the lesson of handling life’s surprises and dealing with unexpected situations. Even youngsters need to learn that things will not always go as planned, there will be surprise pains along the way and resilience is a great trait to learn.


September 27th, 2011
2:35 pm

My doctor has some kind of spray they put on my son’s arm to numb the skin. It doesn’t make all the pain of the shot go away, but it does dull the initial prick. They don’t offer it unless you ask though, but worth checking out if your kid is upset about getting a shot.


September 27th, 2011
2:44 pm

I think sometimes, the parent has the be the parent. Children don’t get a say in everything that happens to them. It’s why they’re CHILDREN.


September 27th, 2011
2:45 pm

Just remembered this….
when we were kids and on the rare occasion we went to the Doctor: if the Doctor said,
“do you want a prescription or a shot?” My Dad always said GIVE HER THE SHOT.
He thought it would take quicker. If we were to refuse the shot …the pain inflicted when we got home would have been much more severe than ANY shot. I am dead serious. There were days we went to school with bruises and welts.


September 27th, 2011
2:48 pm

I totally respect the “All I want is fair warning”. Shots suck. I had to get one at my physical this year, unexpectedly (I’m 30something). Honestly I felt like my doc had some sort of quota of shots she had to give that day, very sketchy used car salesman vibe about the whole thing. And that sucker hurt.

I generally warn my oldest that she might have to have a shot at any dr appt from Oct-March, if she hasn’t had the flu shot yet. With her tendency towards asthma and a 1 year old in the house, the kiddos get the shot. But both girls really like the Shot Nurse at our peds office, and the oldest knows there will probably be milkshakes or some other small treat for getting through the shots.


September 27th, 2011
2:51 pm

On the flu shot debate: I never had one till after I had the REAL flu in 1988. My hair folicles hurt. The air was pressing so hard on my skin I thought I was bruising. My roots of my teeth hurt. I called my kids in, one at a time, and said goodbye to them.

I became a flu shot believer then.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 27th, 2011
2:51 pm

couple of answers – she’s never really freaked out before BUT I always gave her fair warning so that’s the only reason I let that fly. She had no fair warning. Also I knew I could take them to Walgreen’s can get the flu shots without any copay at all so other than having to do it I didn’t lose any money on waiting.

She was begging for the nasal spray but couldn’t do it because she has developed asthma out here. That’s also the reason why the doctor wanted to make sure she had the shot because she has developed asthma.

We never ever did flu shots as kids but when Michael and I lived in New York City we learned that everyone does the flu shot. And ever since NYC, I have gotten flu shots. Now Michael is very bad about not getting them — I think because he doesn’t like shots either. It aggravates me because he is the one on planes and in offices being exposed a lot and I don’t want him bringing it home to us. It’s too hard to recover from. I can’t afford to be sick and if one kid gets it your are screwed. Also now with me being in the classroom at the college there is more risk or exposure. You know the college kids aren’t getting flu shots. Good heavens. I bring hannitizer with me and keep it on my desk. I clean up after I touch their mouses. Yuck!!


September 27th, 2011
2:59 pm

Warning and this is going to be TMI for some:

When I went in for a check up while pregnant with my daughter, I was told I had a polyp on my cervix. It was not a problem but could cause bleeding as I got farther along and they thought it should be removed. So, I asked..”do I make an appt. to have this done?” “Oh no…we are going to do it now…just stay in the stirrups!” My eyes got wide as I saw a long thin scissor instrument that took a snip from inside. NO it was not painless. I did not have 5 minutes to get ready for it and the pinch was not comfortable. To me, the flu shot is MINOR compared to other things I have endured.
Just sayin…


September 27th, 2011
3:02 pm

Wow, motherjanegoose! I had the same thing (I’m pregnant now), but they told me they wouldn’t remove it while I was pregnant. It did actually rupture, which is how I discovered I had them. Scary as heck!!! But they are making me wait until after the baby comes, then they will check again and remove if necessary.


September 27th, 2011
3:05 pm

That’s not what empirical evidence suggests at all.

Ad hominem attacks aren’t necessary. Besides you don’t know what any single person’s intentions or concerns are. To lump Jesse’s girl into a labeled category so you can then proceed to judge her wreaks of bigotry.


September 27th, 2011
3:12 pm

My kids are fine. However my dog knows the street the vet’s office is on (only time we go down that dead end street) and FREAKS.


September 27th, 2011
3:16 pm

@ Steve…our dog goes BESERK when we are heading to Petsmart, as she knows this is her store and she can go inside! She PUTS THE BREAKS ON when she goes to the groomers, which is every 6 weeks. It is hilarious. Last night, I was watching Jeopardy and she was on my lap. The question involved an opera piece, being sung by a man. Our dog sat up and howled. It cracked me up!


September 27th, 2011
3:26 pm

I always tell my son about his shots. He never did cry when he got any of his shots. Even when he was a baby. :)


September 27th, 2011
3:59 pm

With all these vaccines causing autism and you’re going to force your child to take it?!!

I thought...

September 27th, 2011
7:51 pm

…that people moved to AZ to get away from asthma as I thought the dry air out there was a remedy – as MJG says, I learn something new everyday…


September 27th, 2011
10:42 pm

My oldest had lots of issues as a child that involved needles apart from shots and he always dealt with it really well as long as he could watch what was going on…his mom (me) is the total opposite. I have to close my eyes tight when getting a shot, giving blood, whatever involves a needle :)


September 28th, 2011
9:19 am

ooops brakes…my bad!


September 29th, 2011
12:40 am

Sure, let the rest of us pay for and deal with shots while those few carry on about “oh, I never get the shot, and have never had the flu.” That’s because the rest of us are handling it for you, you cheap, pathetic people! Herd mentality!


September 29th, 2011
1:25 am

Why the hostility Kat? geeez

Mrs. G

September 29th, 2011
1:23 pm

When I was in sixth grade, my dad was coming home from a business trip with shingles. I had never had chickenpox. The day he was getting home, I had my annual check-up and the chickenpox vaccine had just come out. The doctor said that I obviously wouldn’t get a full immune response to the vaccine having it that day and then having my dad get home that night, but that it would be better than nothing, combined with keeping my dad isolated. Well, I FLIPPED. I was 12-years-old and had a tantrum in the doctor’s office. My mom must have been absolutely mortified. She actually used bribery to get me to agree to let them give me the vaccine – I ended up with two new pairs of shoes from Nordstrom. :-X

The vaccine worked, though – I never came down with the chickenpox!

Anyway, other than then, my mom used to tell me ahead of time. I always dreaded visits to the doctor for that reason – I would seriously lose sleep at night for about a week before I went. I was SUCH a worrier as a kid.