Who Better Than Daniel Tiger to Calm Children’s Fears About Vaccines?

UPMC Health Plan partnered with Fred Rogers Productions to create a 4-minute “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” audio story to help young ones prepare for their shots.
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When envisioning a trip to the doctor for a vaccine, I think back to when I was a kid and my mom was there to wipe my tears, and I happened to get a colorful sticker, or if I was lucky, a lollipop.

Some children have a legitimate fear of needles. I get it. A stranger is coming at you with a sharp thing that they plan to stick in your arm; it’s no fun.

UPMC Health Plan has recognized the need to calm children’s nerves so they can receive the necessary shots to keep them healthy.

It has partnered with Fred Rogers Productions to create a 4-minute “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” audio story to help prepare them for their vaccinations.

“We know that the use of smart speakers is increasing in the United States and also that it’s oftentimes a convenient source of content for children. We also know that Fred Rogers Productions is a national leader in educational and meaningful children’s entertainment, and with Daniel Tiger, one of Mister Rogers’ most beloved characters, having a mission to help families and children navigate milestones of everyday life, it seemed like a perfect partnership as a way to discuss preventive health,” says Chris Daley, director, digital tech services, UPMC Health Plan. 

Daley adds the audio story titled, “Daniel Tiger Gets a Shot,” helps children to be “big kid brave” by hearing Daniel Tiger’s journey from the moment he learns he is getting a shot to talking about what it will be like and why it’s important with Dr. Anna.

“Daniel models the behavior of the natural anxiety that young children might have at moments like these to finding ways he can be prepared. There’s a famous Daniel Tiger song and the chorus says, ‘When we do, something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do.’ That’s the strategy behind this audio story — it gives children a chance to hear from Daniel’s point of view, something they can focus on, digest and a story they can carry with them all the way to the doctor’s office. My 5-year-old and 3-year-old listened to Daniel on Alexa an hour before we went to get their flu shots; it was telling to watch the emotions of their faces grow from cautious to happy by the end of the story, and when we were in the waiting room prior to getting the shot, Daniel’s story was the subject of our conversation — they learned the why and also the how.” 

The “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” audio story can be accessed by prompting your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device to, “Ask UPMC Health Plan for a Daniel Tiger story.” The story can also be accessed from your Google Assistant or Alexa apps on your smartphone.

“From the first conversation with Fred Rogers Productions, it was clear that they are on a mission to always do good for children and families by way of their characters and stories and that they recognized the importance of preventive health for children. We applaud their willingness to partner on improving the health and well-being of our youngest neighbors,” notes Daley.

Dr. Johanna Vidal-Phelan, medical director, quality, UPMC Health Plan, says, “Due to the recent launch of Daniel’s Story, we are excited to see increasing utilization and hope to learn more about families’ experiences and the numerous benefits of using this tool soon. Many young children and caregivers are familiar with the children’s program ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.’ By partnering with a trusted and loved children’s character, we are amplifying the message UPMC’s pediatricians and family doctors share with their patients and families: Vaccines are an important tool to keep us all healthy!”

Categories: BeWell