Have you ever asked the question that most kids ask when it’s time to go to the doctor? “Do I have to get shots?” An answer of “no” can bring great relief, while a “yes” will likely cause groans and maybe a little dread.

Kids are not alone in feeling this way, though. Most adults don’t like to get shots either.

They can hurt a little bit, and there’s just something about knowing when the doctor or nurse is about to poke you with that needle.

It’s important to understand, though, that shots are a good thing. If you’re sick, a shot of the right medicine can help you feel better in a hurry.

Other shots called “vaccinations” help keep you from getting sick. Some of the worst diseases from the past, such as measles and mumps, can now be avoided thanks to vaccinations.

Shots may hurt just a little bit, but that pain goes away quickly… and it’s much better than getting a serious illness!

Vaccinations work because they contain tiny pieces of the germs that cause a certain disease. These tiny pieces are either dead or extremely weak versions of the germs.

When injected into your body, they cause your immune system to react and build up antibodies to fight the intruding germ.

Antibodies are special cells that help protect your body from diseases. As your body creates more antibodies in response to a germ, you then become immune to that disease.

If you encounter live germs in the future, the antibodies will help your body fight the disease. Most of the time, you won’t get the disease at all, or if you do, it will be only a mild case.

But why do you have to get shots? Couldn’t the doctor just give you the same medicine in an easy-to-swallow pill? Unfortunately, some medicines must be injected rather than swallowed.

Medicines that are swallowed are broken down in the stomach by powerful stomach acids and digestive juices. This is fine for some medicines.

Other medicines, such as vaccinations, need to be injected so that they enter the bloodstream quickly without being affected by stomach acids.

If you’re in school, you’ve probably had most of the shots you need already. You may still need to get at least one shot each year, though.

Especially as winter approaches, it’s often a good idea to get a flu shot to lessen the chance that you’ll catch a bad case of the flu.


34 Join the Discussion

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  1. This is very interesting, considering I don’t think that shots hurt, unlike other kids who cry. I am not trying to offend other kids that do that, because I used to be that way, too. Although I haven’t gotten a shot in a long time, I am trying to remember what it feels like. I believe that the last shot that I got was h1n1. It hurt the worst.

    • Thanks so much for leaving us a comment today, Anna, and for sharing your experiences with getting shots! We think it is interesting that some shots hurt worse than others. Maybe that’s an idea for a future Wonder of the Day®? What do you think? :-)

  2. That is a really good thing to know, because I am terrified of shots. Whenever I get one, I usually cry. Now, I will try to think of something I did before the shot to get it out of my mind. Man, I have to get three shots when I turn eleven. I don’t want to, but I have to, so I will try to think of something that I did over the summer to get it out of my system. I just wish shots and sicknesses didn’t exist. But, if they didn’t, then that wouldn’t be fun, now would it? I would actually rather take a shot then get really ill, because there is a risk I wouldn’t make it. I’ve got the cough and chapped lips and sore throat, so I would take a shot to clear it.

    • What an AWESOME comment you left for us today, Austin! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on shots (nice rhyme, huh?)! We don’t like getting shots much, either, so we will also think about happy times before we have to get our next one. We like your idea of a shot to get rid of chapped lips! That would be neat! :-)

  3. Austin, that’s a really great idea–to think about happy stuff when you have to get a shot!

    It’s really important for certain people to get shots, and that includes kids! It’s a very good idea for the following people to get shots: people with chronic lung disease (like asthma), people with immune-compromised systems (like people with cancer) and babies and older adults. That’s just a bit of trivia to add to today’s WONDERful WONDER OF THE DAY®!

    • Thanks for adding those great facts to today’s Wonder, Bethany! We appreciate when our Wonder Friends share extra things they know, because we love learning new things, too! :-)

  4. Hi, Wonderopolis! I apologize for not being on in so long. I REALLY don’t like shots, either, but I have to have them. Over the course of the year, I think I have gotten at least five shots in my muscle, so it hurts a tremendous amount. Recently, our doctor started giving out flu mist, where they spray the weak virus into you nose. It makes your nose stuffy, but it’s much better than a needle.

    I think that tomorrow’s wonder is about scientists, because they are very talented, and they use microscopes, which take a close look at objects.

    • Five shots is a LOT, Meredith! We’re sure glad you’re brave and understand that you need shots and immunizations to help you stay healthy! We LOVE hearing from you when you get time to visit Wonderopolis and leave us a comment! We hope you are having so much FUN in 6th grade! :-)

    • Hello, Allison! We have LOTS of great Wonders in store for November! We can’t wait to share them with our Wonder Friends! :-)

      We really enjoyed the Wonder your class did about WARTS! How cool! That is something many people WONDER about! Thank you for sharing your class website with us…we have visited there before! We will keep checking back to read more about the awesome things you guys are doing this year! :-)

  5. Hi Wonderopolis,
    I must admit that I was so stupid without knowing this basic information about how vaccines works, antibodies etc… Thanks for explaining it very cleanly.

    • Just because you didn’t know something doesn’t mean you’re not smart, Elango! Smart people (like you!) are the ones who strive to learn new things everyday! We’re glad you visit Wonderopolis and share in all the learning that takes place here! Thank you for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  6. Hi, Wonderopolis!
    Did the shot hurt?
    We have shots in our school.
    But it doesn’t hurt at all.
    Only 1 second!
    You could see our website if you want.
    Well actually you need a user and a password so…..
    On YouTube, check:
    SFS Seoul Foreign Elementary School 2nd grade.

    • Hi, Moa! Shots that don’t hurt at all and only last one second would be AWESOME! We’re sure there are MANY Wonder Friends out there who would agree! Thank you for sharing about your school! We watched a few different videos that showed students from SFS Elementary and Middle Schools! How neat! :-)

  7. We are getting our flu shots at school next Wednesday and we talked a lot about how we may not like needles. We talked about how often our fear of the shot is much worse than the shot itself! One of our students shared that he did not get a flu shot last year and he got the flu bad. We also talked about how it only hurts for a second but keeps us protected for a long time.

    We liked reading the tips for staying healthy and not getting the flu in the “Try it out” section. We have been learning in class about a lot of the same things like eating healthy and staying active.

    Thanks for another great wonder! :)

    • You have shared some awesome advice for other Wonder Friends with your comment today, Kerrick Elementary School! There are a lot of us who stress or worry about getting a shot, and then, right after we’ve gotten one and it didn’t hurt very much, we WONDER why we were so worried in the first place! We’re super proud of you all for learning about keeping your bodies healthy and active. Those are GREAT habits to keep throughout your entire life! :-)

    • We know it stinks (and hurts) to get shots sometimes, Dynah, but they are something that we need to help keep us healthy and growing strong! Thank you for sharing your view of shots today! :-)

  8. I would rather be very sick than get a shot. I’m completely terrified of needles, it’s a phobia of mine. Unfortunately, I don’t know the proper name for it. :)

    • Hello, Marie! Lots of Wonder Friends are afraid to get shots, we know, but sometimes they are necessary to keep us healthy!

      We did some extra WONDERing after we read your comment, and found that the fear of needles is called Trypanophobia. You can find out about some other phobias in the “Try it out” section of past Wonder #375 – Do You Think 13 Is Unlucky? Here’s a link to that Wonder: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/do-you-think-13-is-unlucky/! :-)

  9. I think that when I was little, I would cry a lot. But now I would rather get a shot than be very sick. I also know what it feels like to have painful shots. I think my last shot was my rubella shot. In the year 2007, my grandpa was diagnosed with CHD. It is a disease that kills your brain cells until you die. I think this Wonder was full of great information. I learned a lot.

    • Hello, Adam! Thank you so much for visiting this Wonder of the Day® and for letting us know you learned a lot from exploring it! We’re really sorry to hear about your grandpa. We appreciate you sharing your personal connection to this Wonder.

    • You’re super brave and have a great attitude about getting shots, Cheyenne! We’re proud of you! Thank you for visiting Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Sometimes taking medicine CAN be a bit scary, Kimberlee, especially if it is in the form of a shot! But, we need to take the medicine our doctors prescribe for us so that we can stay healthy and strong! Thanks so much for leaving us a comment today! :-)

  10. I have gotten a blood test before. IT HURT! They stuck the needle in for like a half an hour, and than they forgot a tube, and when me and my mom had our jackets on and were already to go, she told me that she forgot a tube. That made me MAD, but than she gave me a popsicle and a bag FULL of stuff. But, then at least I got to go to toys r us after and than we went home. So, that was a rough day…the worst day of my life!

    • Thank you for sharing your story about getting blood taken, Johannah! We’re super sorry that happened to you! It’s a GREAT day for us when we find out that our AWESOME Wonder Friends (like you!) have visited Wonderopolis and left us comments! Thank you! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing that you like to get shots, Tray! We appreciate your comment and are happy you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

  11. I hate shots more than anything in the entire world. Every time I hear i’m getting a shot I enter a state of fear and eternal shock. I remember when I got three shots and never knew I get them until I got there.

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why can’t all medicine be swallowed?
  • What is a vaccination?
  • How can you avoid getting the flu?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Ready to fight the flu? There’s nothing worse in winter than waking up with the flu. Fever and chills at the same time, achy muscles all over, upset stomach… these are just some of the awful symptoms of the flu.

How can you avoid getting the flu? Here are some simple tips to follow for staying healthy all winter long:

  • Get a flu shot! Every year, vaccines are developed to fight the most common types of the flu. Getting a flu shot can help your body build up antibodies to fight flu germs when you come into contact with them.
  • Get enough sleep! When your body is attacked by germs, it needs energy and rest to be able to fight effectively. Not getting enough sleep can leave your body tired and unprepared to fight off nasty germs.
  • Eat right! Like getting enough sleep, your body needs nutritious food to work its best. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Your body will thank you!
  • Wash your hands regularly! Washing your hands after using the bathroom, before and after you eat, as well as after you’ve been playing with other kids, helps reduce the chance that germs will find their way into your body.
  • Stay active! Regular exercise is important, even in the colder winter months. Dress appropriately for school, so you can take advantage of recess and other opportunities to stay in tip-top physical shape year-round.


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Check out Science NetLinks’ Antibiotic Attack interactive tool to help kids look at the pros and cons of using antibiotics to treat illness.


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