Lessons I Learned While Vaccinating My Kids Against COVID-19

Sabrina L. Johnson avatar

by Sabrina L. Johnson |

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Deciding to get yourself or your child vaccinated for COVID-19 is a personal choice. For us, the facts outweighed the myths. My 10-year-old daughter, Jessa, and our 11-year-old Angel, Juliana, are now officially vaccinated.

Well, almost. We made it through the first round of COVID-19 vaccine shots. But there were some bumps in the road.

We decided to move forward with vaccines while the girls were on Christmas break. Truthfully, I was on the fence about the vaccine for them. After reading about a teenager with Angelman syndrome who was hospitalized due to COVID-19, I didn’t want to take extra risks with Juliana’s health.

The experience wasn’t a bad one. However, there are things I will do differently for the next shot. First and foremost, I’ll plan to have my husband come with me. He stayed home with Jessa while I took Juliana to get her injection. I really thought I would be able to handle things. For the most part, I did. However, looking back, I won’t do things the same way next time.

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Mistake 1

I needed a few minutes alone with the nurse to introduce Juliana and talk about ways to make her shot easier. After waiting for our turn, I sat Juliana on my lap so I could hold her still while she got her shot. When we sat down, I said, “This is Juliana.” After an awkward pause, I uncomfortably blurted, “She’s nonverbal.”

Why did I say that? This is not an introduction I have ever used for Juliana. I was trying to explain to the nurse that we didn’t need a countdown. I saw her use a countdown with the child before us and didn’t want the extra delay. But I wasn’t expecting an unhelpful description like that to come from my mouth. I wasn’t anxious, but I was a little nervous about how Juliana would react.

Mistake 2

I didn’t prepare well enough for the appointment. I often schedule appointments for my girls at different times. Jessa had her shot that morning, and everything went quite well. I scheduled Juliana’s shot for the afternoon after getting home from school. When it was time for her appointment, the day was wearing on me.

I was rushing to finish some things and forgot to account for Juliana’s trip to the bathroom. Juliana follows a trip training routine for the bathroom. We follow a schedule for bathroom breaks. Therefore, we needed to go to the bathroom before leaving the house.

Trying to get your child to potty on demand never works. So, we had a delay before we left the house. We made it to the appointment in time, but I should have brought Juliana’s greeting card. The greeting card is how we introduce Juliana and Angelman syndrome to new people. Since I was rushing, I forgot to bring it with me.

Mistake 3

I should have taken care of myself before the shot. This references the speech they give on airplanes. They always tell you to put on your own mask before assisting someone else with theirs. I didn’t do a good job with that.

The appointments were scheduled on a day when I wasn’t working. However, the day was still somewhat full. Putting some things on hold would have helped me show up less harried. Having some extra time to gather myself and supplies for the visit would have been a good idea.

I’ve beat myself up enough over these slip-ups. But I did do some things right. Juliana had her iPad and was entertained before and after her shot. She barely cried, and my distractions helped.

I played a music video on her iPad, and she was completely taken away with the music in no time. I also grabbed some jelly beans at the last minute when leaving the house. Juliana loves jelly beans, so they served as a distraction before the shot, and a reward after it.

COVID-19 vaccine | Angelman Syndrome News | Sabrina's daughter Juliana smiles while listening to music after getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot.

Juliana is a happy camper as she listens to music after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

Better next time

Sometimes we are our worst critics, so I’ve got to let myself off the hook. I will eventually. However, I’m still working on getting that horrible introduction out of my head. Thank goodness I get a do-over for the second shot.

I’ll chalk this visit up as lessons learned. We grow from our mistakes, and I have gained a lot from this one. Getting a COVID-19 shot is very different from getting a shot at our pediatrician’s office. I’ll be more prepared for the next go-round. Of course, Juliana will be a lot wiser when she realizes where I’m taking her, which will make my task even more challenging. I’ll be sure to have a lot more jelly beans.

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Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.

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