Preparing for Swab Tests & Vaccinations

Swab Tests & Vaccinations

Children are definitely prone to getting some sort of infection from all the viruses and bacteria living around us. We live in a world where familiar symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throats and those sniffles have taken a completely different meaning, particularly since the day we were all introduced to Covid-19. 


When are children taken to do their swab tests? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if your child has had a close contact with someone who doesn’t display any symptoms of an infection but is tested positive with Covid-19, it’s best to wait at least 4 days after the exposure before getting tested.  


Image Source: Yahoo News Malaysia

Prerequisites & Materials

a) Prerequisites

  • Cooperation
  • The ability to follow First Then instructions
  • Attention
  • Imitation 


b) Materials for Swab Tests


c) Materials for Vaccinations

Additional Tips to Build Your Child’s Readiness for Swab Tests & Vaccinations

1. Share child-friendly information

  • Parents to describe in detail what children can expect
  • Use clear images when describing 


2. Help your child plan coping strategies

  • Explain to them that their main task is to sit still.
  • Children can be allowed to bring or hold their favourite toy while they wait for their turn or while they go through the procedure.
  • Children can be allowed to listen to a song while they wait, when they do the test and after, especially if they love songs.
  • Consider allowing them to wait for their turn in the car.
  • Prepare a very special reward for after they do they complete the procedure. 


3. Affirmation

  • Tell children what they did that went really well.
      • Record a video of your child going through the test
      • Do an interview with them, thereafter, asking them how they felt and how they thought it went. 

Teaching the “Standard Routine”

This routine would be applicable to building children’s readiness to both swab tests and vaccinations.  


  1. Sit quietly, either on a chair or on an adult’s lap – depending on the child’s comfort. 
  2. Prompt the child to lean back, look up, and close their eyes. 
  3. Encourage your child to hold a favourite toy or item, or even hold your hand for comfort. 
  4. Prompt them to start counting down from 15 or perhaps sing the ABC song, or any song that they are familiar with.  

Let’s Teach!

  1. Prepare the materials
  2. Read the social story
  3. Show the video model 
  4. Show the First Then board
  5. Give the instruction, “Do swab” or “Take jab”
  6. Begin practice
  7. Reward the child for a job well done 

Swab Test Practices

Then as for the practice for swab, the breakdown can look like this. Seeing that this is a tolerance-based programme, it’s alright to do it very gradually if your child needs more time to learn. 


Vaccination Practices

The goal is to ensure the child has as positive an experience as possible when they go to get vaccinated. The breakdown of this teaching strategy can look like this:



Also, do remember that this breakdown may need to be adapted even further to accommodate the needs of the different children. 


On the actual vaccination day, an adult may still need to hold their child’s hand or shoulder if they show some discomfort before taking their turn for the swab tests or to get vaccinated. 


Children should still be rewarded despite their reaction to the procedure, as long as they complete it.


Feel free to also refer to this resource prepared by JKJAV, or the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme for individuals with autism.  


Source: Jawatankuasa Khas Jaminan Akses Vaksin COVID-19

Your Turn

  1. Prepare all the materials for your child to practice getting ready for a swab test as well as for a vaccination, if that is relevant to you. 
  2. Next, identify which skill your child will need to start with first and break it down and start the practice.

1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021, September 1). COVID-19 testing guidance. American Academy of Pediatrics.,have%20close%20contacts%20immediately%20tested
2. Birnie, K., & McMurtry, M. (2020, October 14). 6 tips to prepare your child for easy COVID-19 testing. The Conversation.
3. Special Committee on Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply . (n.d.). Guide and visual schedule for COVID-19 vaccination. Focus: Autism spectrum and neurodevelopmental conditions. Jawatankuasa Khas Jaminan Akses Bekalan Vaksin COVID-19 (JKJAV).