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Is your pharmacy prepared to immunize children?


Let's start examining the expanded indication of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine now that it includes children from 5-11 years.

Is your pharmacy prepared to immunize children?

Vaccinating children is nothing new to pharmacies. Pharmacies have experience with flu shots, but the number of individuals looking for vaccinations against COVID-19 sees new patients, fears, and hesitancies. Here are a few simple tips and tools for your pharmacy to help support COVID-19 vaccinations in children.

Let us start with workflow…

We all want to ensure we utilize our doses as efficiently as possible, but we also want to consider the patient experience.

1.       Do not overbook. Being turned away from an appointment is difficult enough but convincing a child to return for a shot can be even more difficult. It is essential to remember that this is often a family affair and impacts both parents and children. Be consistent and commit to appointments ensuring patients/parents who may have some vaccine hesitancy do not neglect to vaccinate children or, worse, do not come for the second dose.

It is important to remember that we want to make sure parents and the child come back and ensure their children get the two doses. So, ensuring that the first experience goes well is vital in ensuring adherence.

2.       Keep buffer in your vaccine supply. In addition to the above point, consider keeping a few extra doses if families come with additional siblings, a dose is lost, or to accommodate other unforeseen occurrences.

3.       Do not book back-to-back appointments of children from different families. Families with more than one child will likely want to have everyone vaccinated at once, but try not to book multiple families with children right after each other if possible. One of the best things about a pharmacy is the one-on-one attention you can provide compared to mass clinics. Having a crying child before another child needs to be vaccinated can create fear or anxiety in the next child.

Creating a safe place in your pharmacy

4.       Create a safe environment for the child. Consider having a tablet or TV playing something the child can concentrate on as a distraction. You may even consider having a toy, such as one that makes noise or lights up and grabs attention, for children to focus on to distract them

5.       Watch your language. The language and tone you and your staff use can also affect how a child feels. Ensure staff are calm and speak in an even soft voice throughout the immunization, as children can be susceptible to your emotions. Use terms such as "you may feel a squeeze or poke" rather than words like "sharp pain, sting."

6.       Manage the pre-injection phase. In some cases, to help children, where appropriate, you can consider using a numbing cream or patch at the site before injection.

7.       Help them feel safe. There are situations where some children will be highly hesitant and may require a comforting hold. Insist that the parent/guardian hold the child in a hugging or cuddling position to help them feel safe. This hugging position also helps keep arms still so that vaccines can be given safely.

8.       Encourage deep breathing exercises. In some children who are more aware and can engage, you may want to consider deep breathing exercises. This will help the body relax. Some standard techniques are to picture blowing out a candle or blowing bubbles.

And then they will need to wait…

9.       Entertain them while they wait. Remember that children need to stick around to be monitored before leaving the pharmacy. Consider having stickers, colouring pages, or other items to keep them distracted in your pharmacy.

10.     Use waiting time to educate. The time parents and children have to wait is an excellent opportunity to educate and create awareness. Try to have items that engage children as to why vaccines help protect them and list your pharmacy's other services to parents.


Immunize BC. (2021). Preparing for a positive experience. Immunize BC Retrieved December 6, 2021.

Pfizer Canada ULC. (November 19, 2021). COMIRNATY COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA. Product Monograph. Retrieved December 6, 2021.



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