Nonprofit helps kids overcome needle anxiety for flu shot, COVID-19 vaccine

National News

(WTAJ) — As of Wednesday, U.S. health officials gave the final clearance to COVID-19 shots for kids five to 11, however, “needle anxiety” posses a new hurdle to roll out shots to millions of children.

The Meg Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to help children manage pain from medical providers, created a chat bot named “SuperMeg” with hopes to help kids overcome their fear of needles. Thus, helping kids receive their flu shots and potentially COVID-19 vaccines.

“Young kids often feel like they don’t have a choice to get that poke,” CEO of the Meg Foundation Jody Thomas said.

So, Thomas said children should be given as many choices as they can, such as which arm, if they want to bring a toy, if they’d prefer to sit on a lap, etc.

The SuperMeg is a program that takes kids through the vaccine process and teaches them breathing and distraction techniques. Thomas said the sources of the pain lies in the brain, and that anxiety is what leads to pain for a lot of kids.

SuperMeg was developed by top experts in pediatric pain management, the website wrote. It was driven by research and supported by best practice guidelines of nearly every pediatric organization in the world.

The way the chatbot works is by creating a customized “SuperMeg Poke Plan” for every child by taking them through a series of questions that get to the bottom of what’s causing their anxiety. For example, it begins by teaching kids where pain comes from and how it can be reduced if they can find a way to stay relaxed – thus, creating a plan by asking kids what makes them feel more at ease when thinking of the poke.

The SuperMeg chatbot isn’t the only resource provided by the Meg Foundation. They gathered information to help parent learn to comfort newborns and babies, help toddlers achieve pain management skills, teach elementary kids new skills that help them stay calm at the doctor’s office, help teens control their bodies as they grow up and more on their website.

For more information on needle anxiety, other resources, or ways to donate and support the Meg Foundation’s mission, head to their website.

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