Flu season has officially begun. While it usually peaks in February, getting ready for the flu season should be on your list of things to do now. The best way to treat any ailment is to prevent it from happening in the first place. And the best prevention against the seasonal flu is the flu vaccine. Remember it takes two weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective.

Visits to the pediatrician’s office for shots are never fun, and are often incredibly stressful. That’s why parents praised the flu mist vaccine, introduced in 2003. Kids are much more receptive to the needle-free form.

Unfortunately, parents won’t find the option this year. Due to studies showing its ineffectiveness, the Center for Disease Control is recommending people not get the flu mist vaccine for the 2016-2017 flu season. In last year’s flu season, the nasal vaccine was found to have an effective rate of less than 3%.

This doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t get their kids vaccinated. These tips may help you and your little one get through the flu shot appointment with less tears and stress.

  • Avoid scheduling the appointment during naptime or close to mealtime.
  • Bring a comfort item to the appointment (blanket, stuffed animal, favorite book).
  • Make eye contact, smile, and offer encouraging words.
  • Distract your child with talk about different fun topics.
  • Hold your child tightly when the shot is given.
  • Offer encouragement and comfort after the shot is given.
  • Get the flu shot yourself at the same appointment.

The older a child gets, the more you can offer verbal support. Remind your older child that the shot only hurts for a brief bit and is important to keep them healthy.

After the shot, it’s common to experience redness and soreness where the shot was administered. Remind your child that this is normal. Over-the-counter medicines like Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen relieve symptoms.

Even if your child receives the flu shot, take precautions to prevent the flu and other ailments.

  • Have your child wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or shirtsleeve (in lieu of hands).
  • Avoid interacting with others who are sick.
  • Use sanitizing wipes to clean toys and commonly touched surfaces.