Clinical Tip: To take the fear out of shots, plan ahead

May 1, 2005

For the child who dreads shots or the anxious parent who cringes at the thought of her infant receiving several immunizations at a health-maintenance visit, I offer a prescription of EMLA anesthetic cream. I instruct the parent to apply a glob of it at the injection site the morning of the appointment (or at noon for an afternoon appointment) and cover the site with a small adhesive bandage to mark the target. The strategy works like a charm to calm both children and parents. Our patients are now so accustomed to "painless shots" that the office staff offers an EMLA prescription routinely when scheduling health-maintenance visits that involve immunizations-and parents sometimes call in advance to request the prescription.

Stuart Trust, MDFulton, N.Y.