The first thing I try to do is start talking about getting shots in advance, usually a couple of weeks ahead of time. I don't like to spring something like this on my kids, I don't think it's fair to them and I don't find that it does much to make getting shots less traumatic either. I like to let my daughter know that the time for immunizations is coming up and I discuss with her the reason that we get them and why it's important to protect ourselves from illness. I also talk about how we're protecting other people, especially babies, she seems to be most interested in that part of the equation! I explain to her what would happen if she was to get sick with something like the flu and tell her about the symptoms and how icky she would feel and for how long. Basically, I make something like getting the flu seem as bad as possible, without being scary about it, so that she'll want to do what it takes to avoid it. You don't want to terrorize your child with gruesome descriptions that will scare the daylights out of them or tell them something terrible like they could die if they got sick, because if they do happen to get sick, you don't want them to worry!
Next, I tell her the truth. I know, this goes against everything we know about telling our kids about getting shots. When I was a kid, I remember my mom telling me that it wasn't going to hurt, I'm pretty sure that it only made it worse. So I tell my daughter that it will feel like a pinch but it will be really fast and then it won't hurt anymore! She responds well to this, I mean, pinches don't hurt all that bad, right? I think it's also important not to lie about this to your kids because you don't want them feeling betrayed when they find out that you weren't telling them the truth!
The most important part of this, especially to your child, is the promise of reward. I always offer my daughter something I know she really wants in exchange for being really brave during her shots. This doesn't have to be a toy, it can be a trip to the park or a promise to play a game with them when you get done, or even taking them on a special walk, just the two of you! Every year, I also let my daughter pick out a special box of band-aids and take them with her to put on her owie after she gets her vaccination. She really gets a kick out of showing the nurses her special band-aids. This year she has chosen a Barbie as her special treat if she's brave during her shots - last year it was marshmallows!
Something you may, or may not, want to try is letting your child watch you get your shot. Whether or not this will work for you will depend entirely on your child's personality. Some kids will be comforted by watching you get immunized with a smile on your face and it will let them see that it's not so bad. Other kids may not do well with watching it done. I think it all depends on if your child is the type that has to know how things work. Some kids need to know exactly what is happening to them and are more afraid of the unknown than the actual idea of getting the vaccine. My daughter is not one of those children. She would rather make up her own version of things than know what's really going on. I made the mistake of letting her sit on my lap while they gave me my flu shot and having her watch the needle go into my arm was kind of scary for her. Her eyes got huge and terrified. It didn't matter to her that I didn't cry or act scared, she was just freaked out by seeing it that up-close! My stepson, on the other hand, has to know exactly what is going on around him all the time or he doesn't feel comfortable. As a child he didn't pretend to make food and feed it to us because, to him, that was just ridiculous - he wanted to play with real things! He is the type of kid who would benefit from watching me get the shot first, and knowing exactly what the nurses were going to do to him gave him a feeling of being in control and eased his fears. You'll have to decide this one for your own child, you know their personalities better than anyone!
This year, I have my daughter begging me to let her get her shots right now! I think the most important part of all of this is just getting your child prepared for this usually scary experience. If you can give them time to get used to the idea and ask you any questions they may have, then you can effectively take the fear out of getting shots for your child too! Whatever you decide to do, just remember that getting your child vaccinated is what's best for them. It's better to have them feel a little tiny bit of pain for a second now than for them to get very ill for days and days later. Once your child gets sick once, their immune system can stay weakened for quite some time, making them susceptible to other illnesses, so do what you can to protect them this cold and flu season!