Improving the vaccination experience for Niagara students

Niagara Region Public Health has teamed up with researchers at the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children who developed the CARDTM System-a better way to prepare Niagara students for their vaccination experience. 
The CARDTM System, which stands for Comfort, Ask, Relax, and Distract, teaches students various coping strategies to help alleviate the stress associated with vaccinations. Prior to holding a school vaccination clinic, public health nurses work closely with teachers and students to educate them about the CARDTM System, and help students select individual coping strategies to use on vaccination day. On the day of the school clinic, students inform the nurse which "CARD" they want to play to help them cope during their vaccination experience and reduce discomfort and anxiety.
"A student playing the 'Comfort' card might bring a favourite item. Another might 'Ask' the nurse to count to three before administering the needle. Some students wanted to 'Relax' by taking deep belly breaths to help them stay calm. Others choose to listen to music or have a friend nearby to 'Distract' them," said Leslie Alderman, supervisor with the Vaccine Preventable Diseases team at Niagara Region Public Health who was involved in the clinic trial. 
The findings, published in the journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, showed students' symptoms improved, including a reduction in fear and dizziness. 
"This study changed the way we deliver our Grade 7 vaccination program. The CARD System is a very intuitive and intentional approach to immunization that makes the student immunization experience more positive,” said Alderman. “Our nurses continue to train and empower students to use the CARD System in all schools.”


Alexandra Rankin
Niagara Region Public Health
905-688-8248 ext. 7481

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