August is National Immunization Awareness Month. The back-to-school rush is upon us. As children and families buy school supplies and new shoes and prepare to meet their teachers, they also need to schedule their routine vaccinations to protect themselves and their classmates.
Fear of needles by children and their parents is a significant barrier to timely vaccinations. Delaying or forgoing vaccines negatively affects children’s health. As the number of childhood vaccinations has increased –as many as 27 shots by age two and up to six shots in a single visit—it takes more than lollipops and colorful bandages to help ease fear, improve coping, and increase vaccine adherence. The need for additional tools and resources to alleviate the stress on both parent and child during the process has never been greater.
Hope for Henry, a leader in pediatric patient experience, has created a program to ensure the emotional safety of all kids undergoing routine vaccinations no matter where it happens – pediatrician offices, community health pop-ups, and pharmacies. Hope for Henry’s Super Rewards for Vaccinations Program features family-friendly graphics and language highlighting when and how to talk with children of various ages about their upcoming appointments, what to bring with them, and how to alleviate their anxiety before and during the appointment. Designed by a team of leading child life specialists, the program features clear explanations of each step of the vaccination process and stickers to mark progress. Narrative maps are placed in the waiting areas of vaccine sites to give kids (and their caregivers) a helpful guide of what to expect and a sense of accomplishment as they complete the steps leading up to and culminating in a successful, less stressful vaccination experience. Our program materials are available in print, video, and now online, with digital downloads available.
The program has proven popular and practical. In just one year, it has already benefited 23,475 children thanks to strategic partnerships with pharmacies, hospitals, and pop-up clinics. Its efficacy and demand indicate a need for scalable, accessible, age-appropriate healthcare resources. The age of lollipops in the waiting area after a shot is over. Hope for Henry offers a better way – kids and families with knowledge, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment that will help them become lifelong, informed healthcare consumers.