The best way to hold your child whilst they get vaccinated.

Here in Australia, we are just about to roll out vaccinating the 5-12-year-olds with the Pfizer (COMINARTY) vaccine. This will be an injection of 0.2mls ( that is, 10 micrograms of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine) into the deltoid muscle of their upper arm.

As one of the nurses who will be vaccinating these children, I thought I would share the following tips on the best way to hold your child as they are receiving the injection. The vaccination nurses are trained to provide support and distraction during the injection to make the whole experience as un-scary as possible.

Kids come in all different shapes and sizes.
Here are 3 positions that will assist the vaccination nurse to deliver the dose quickly and effectively. You might like to practice ahead of time to prepare both of you for the experience and make the whole thing a little less intimidating. You can say it is the special vaccination hug they will get. Afterwards, there will be a treat.

Lap hug position:

  • For smaller sized child.
  • Sit the child sideways on your lap (usually on your left leg).
  • Let their legs fall between your own thighs and then bring them together.
  • Bring your left arm around behind your child and hold their left elbow snuggly against their body (see picture above). Their right arm should be tucked away under your left armpit.
  • Your right hand is holding their left hand snuggly agains their stomach.
  • The injection only takes a few moments and it is important to hold the child as still as possible so the full dose is delivered.

Straddle hug position:

  • For slightly larger child.
  • Child straddles both your thighs facing you.
  • Your left arm goes around the back of your child providing support. Their right arm should be tucked under your armpit.
  • With your right hand hold your Childs left arm just below the elbow (snugly against their body).
  • The injection only takes a few moments and it is important to hold the child as still as possible so the full dose is delivered.

Larger (older) children:

  • Encourage them to sit solo in the vaccination chair. You will be able to provide both physical and emotional support during the injection. There will always be a discussion beforehand as to how best to position for the injection to best meet your child’s needs.
  • Both feet should be flat on the ground.
  • They should place their hands on their upper thighs and relax their forearms.
  • They should try to keep their arms slightly flexed (but relaxed) at the elbows to encourage the deltoid muscle in the upper arm to relax.
  • Ask them to take a slow deep breath, raise their shoulders on the in-breath and then let them drop naturally as they exhale.
  • Inform them that the injection will only take a moment and it is very important that they do not move so that they get the correct dose in the correct injection site.

Common reactions:

And finally, if you are wondering about what (if any) side effects your child might experience after vaccination, here is a list that identifies the frequency of very common adverse events in the 5 to <12 years age group:

  • Injection site pain – >80% of individuals.
  • Fatigue – >50% of individuals.
  • Headache – >30% of individuals.
  • Injection site redness and swelling – >20% of individuals.
  • Myalgia (aching muscles) and chills – >10% of individuals.

Reference: information and pictures from the Australian Government Department of Health Immunisation Handbook.

Main photo by Mika Baumeister 

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3 responses to “The best way to hold your child whilst they get vaccinated.”

  1. Can I ask,, do you aspirate when you give covid vaccinations??
    Have been reading a lot about best practice for covid vaccinations , and in the UK the bmj recommends it owing to higher risks of myocarditis and pericarditis if injected intravascular. !!


    1. Hi Amanda!
      Aspirating is no longer considered best practice. The risk of intravascular injection if correct site is used is minuscule.
      Evidence that intravascular injection leads to peri/myo-carditis is weak. Aspirating prolongs the injection time, increases discomfort and increases risk of needle detachment.
      Nursing professional bodies in Australia & ATAGI all direct not to aspirate.


      1. Agree, this was always my understanding but in the UK it has become quite a ‘ thing
        ‘ to now aspirate just for covid vaccs. No wonder everyone confused .
        Thanks. Have a great new year

        Liked by 1 person

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