As a trusted source of information, you can help protect children with developmental disabilities from COVID-19 by taking every opportunity to recommend the COVID vaccines.

Below are some considerations for vaccinating children with developmental disabilities. Tips for having effective vaccine conversations can be found here.

Consider not just having vaccine conversations with families, caregivers and patients, but also becoming a COVID vaccine provider.

Considerations for children and teens with developmental disabilities:

Consider the best place for this patient to receive the vaccine. Is it in your office with familiar faces? At their pediatrician’s office? At a drive-through clinic? For some children, getting the vaccine at a drive-through clinic can be a less traumatic process, as it allows them to remain secured in their safety seat and engage with a distraction (i.e., a movie on an iPad).

Prepare the patient and family. Consider a social story or other resources to help patients and families know what they can expect when they come for their appointment.

Have a plan in place for addressing potential side effects-is acetaminophen or ibuprofen appropriate for this patient? Could they receive the vaccine while inpatient for a planned procedure and be monitored for side effects? Are there regular medications that could be adjusted? Be up front with families that side effects from the vaccine, especially fever, can last a couple of days. Sometimes children and youth with development disabilities have a lower threshold to seek care for fever and pain due to their specific conditions.

When children and teens with developmental disabilities are receiving the vaccine in your clinic:

  • Include familiar staff, as available.
  • Minimize waiting time.
  • Consider low stimulation waiting and administration spaces.
  • Have distraction or pain management techniques available.
  • Encourage patients and family/caregivers to bring comfort items.

Implementation Resources

The AAP has numerous practice implementation resources for COVID-19 Vaccine, which include the following topics:

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American Academy of Pediatrics