Priming for Vaccination

By: Jessica Militich

After a year in lockdown, COVID19 vaccines are finally out! Each person who gets the vaccine slows the spread of COVID19 and all its variants. So, please get the vaccine. No worries! This article isn’t another encouragement to get the vaccine! This article is written about priming people on the autism spectrum for receiving the COVID19 vaccine.

Priming is preparing someone for something that is going to happen.1 For example, if your child needs a warning before going to a crowded area, you can prime them by saying, “Tomorrow we will go to the grocery store after lunch.” For getting the vaccine, you can tell your child, “Tomorrow we will get the COVID19 vaccine after lunch.” However, there are other ways you can prime them for that painful prick.

    1. Use Visuals: Show your child pictures of what a vaccine looks like and where on their body they will receive it. If you have already scheduled your vaccination appointment, you can show them pictures of the place they will go for the vaccine and even where in the building they will receive it.
    2. Videos: You can show your child videos of other people getting vaccinated. This will help them know what exactly to expect from their vaccine appointment. Showing videos where people don’t show any pain from the vaccine can let them know that it won’t actually hurt, despite how it looks.
    3. Social Stories: Social stories are short “stories” of pictures for primming people. Here is a link to a social story about getting the COVID19 vaccine.
    4. Tell why: Explain why your child is getting the COVID19 vaccine. Tell them about the coronavirus which makes people sick, but how the vaccine will keep your child healthy. Explain that when the majority of people get the vaccine, people won’t have to remain in lockdown. Furthermore, let them know that some people who get sick easily will need others to get the vaccine to help end the pandemic. By getting the vaccine, your child is helping the people who get sick easily.
    5. Reminders: Consistency can be the best part of priming. Remind your child about their upcoming appointment and what to expect from it. Everyone is different. Some might need daily reminders of when their appointment will be. Others might need more frequent reminders of when their appointment will be, along with reminders on what to expect at their appointment.
    6. Conclusion: This article on COVID19 vaccine priming can also be used to prime people for doctor’s appointments, taking medicines, or receiving other vaccines.



Opinions expressed within the content are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Autism Society of Hawaii, its Board of Directors, or any of its affiliates.