Tags: Coronavirus | Vaccines | needles | vaccine | fear | trypanophobia | afraid

Fear of Needles Can Cause Vaccine Hesitancy

Fear of Needles Can Cause Vaccine Hesitancy
Syringes containing a dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are viewed at a vaccination event at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in South Los Angeles on March 11, 2021. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 17 March 2021 11:32 AM

Many have an intense fear of needles — sometimes triggered by previous painful experiences with injections or witnessing someone else suffer from them — that can prevent them from seeking medical care including getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

A University of Michigan study found that 16% of people globally avoided getting their annual flu shot and 20% shunned tetanus shots because of needle phobia, according to The New York Times.

Experts worry the condition, also referred to as trypanophobia, may stop some Americans from receiving their COVID-19 shot.

"It would be heartbreaking to me if a fear of needles held someone back from getting this vaccine, because there are things we can do to alleviate that," said Dr. Nipunie S. Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious disease physician from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Experts say that the fear usually lessens as people get older, and that younger Americans, the very ones that are driving the epidemic right now, are more apt to be frightened.  According to the Times, there are steps you can take to overcome needle phobia.

Seek professional help. Therapists have ways to help people deal with phobias by increasing their experience to the trigger. For example, the patient may be asked to examine photos of needles and people receiving the vaccine to lessen their apprehension. This is called exposure therapy, according to experts at MemorialCare Medical Group. If the patient is truly anxious, the therapist may prescribe medication to help reduce anxiety.

Dr. Rajapakse said that nurses or physicians can use techniques that lessen the pain or discomfort of giving an injection if they are aware of the patient’s fear. Some people who are prone to dizziness or fainting may be more comfortable receiving a shot while lying down, she added. Dr. Trung Tristan Truong, a pediatrician at MemorialCare, said there are numbing creams and gels that can blunt the potential pain at the injection site.

A distraction could also help alleviate the anxiety. Watching a YouTube video, listening to music, or if you can have a friend come with you to the vaccination site, simply talking, can keep your mind occupied on something else. Rajapakse advises not looking at the needle and reminding yourself it will all be over in a short while.

Truong adds that deep, rhythmic breathing can help relax the nervous system. With children, it is sometimes beneficial offer them a reward after their shot so they have something positive to look forward to.

The same technique can work for adults, says Rajapakse, who says that focusing on the health benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine both for yourself and for the community at large, can be the reward.

The expert said that when she got her first shot of the vaccine, she reminded herself of the benefits she would receive. "My personal feeling was one of optimism and excitement rather than feeling nervous about it," she said, according to the Times.

© HealthDay


Headline
Many have an intense fear of needles — sometimes triggered by previous painful experiences with injections or witnessing someone else suffer from them — that can prevent them from seeking medical care including getting the COVID-19 vaccine...
needles, vaccine, fear, trypanophobia, afraid
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2021-32-17
Wednesday, 17 March 2021 11:32 AM
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