Though the fact that children ages 5-11 can now receive the COVID vaccine is a cause for celebration for many parents, kids don't necessarily feel the same way. Because let's face it, shots can be scary!
To ease kids' nerves before getting the vaccine, many hospitals and medical facilities are bringing in the big dogs—literally.
Therapy dogs are providing comfort to scared kids all across the country as they receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. Therapy dogs have been a regular feature at many children's hospitals for years, and now they're helping to distract young vaccine recipients while providing some much-needed snuggles.
Zilly, the Sheriff's therapy dog, is helping us calm nervous kids getting their vaccines in Sauk Village. He greets kids and is by their side when they bravely get the jab!— Cook County Department of Public Health (@CookCoHealth) November 13, 2021
He'll be on hand again today -- the Community Center, on Kavelage Drive, behind the Police Station pic.twitter.com/bZPdu42CFI
“It was the perfect distraction,” Micaela Inglese, a volunteer coordinator at John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., told TODAY Parents. “Dog therapy really helps ease the nerves of the children that come.”
Nolan Mabie, a 7-year-old from Buffalo, was one of those kiddos. He received some encouragement from a four-legged friend named Chester during his first dose.
“It was kind of actually a little fun getting my vaccine. We met the therapy dog Chester and I got to pet him,” Nolan said.
Nolan’s mom, Jessica Mabie, is the vice president of Oishei Children’s Hospital operations. She told TODAY that the dogs give kids a reason to look forward to something while they're waiting for their vaccine.
“The environment was just so much friendlier, people were so much more at ease,” Mabie said. “You could tell, you know, there were some nerves from the kiddos that were waiting, but by having the dogs there... we could focus on the dog instead of the shot.”
Ollie was joined by 14 other dogs of the PetSmart Paws for Hope Canine Therapy Program to help kids aged 5-11 ever since they became eligible for the vaccine earlier this month.
Therapy dogs provide a sense of comfort to anyone who is struggling with medical procedures, medical-related stress, or anyone who just needs a little extra comfort for any reason.
Inglese says the dogs definitely help the little kids who are getting their shot.
“You absolutely do notice a difference in nerves,” Inglese said. “You can see children's shoulders start to relax. They start to smile. They really don't pay attention to the vaccine.
“You absolutely do notice a difference in nerves,” Inglese said. “You can see children's shoulders start to relax. They start to smile. They really don't pay attention to the vaccine. We, actually, at the end of it had kids crying because they didn't want to leave."