What To Do When You’re More Afraid of Needles Than Catching COVID

Image by Katja Fuhlert / Rights Purchased by Author

If you’re a sufferer of needle phobia, I do not doubt that you are likely considering not getting the vaccine to avoid your worst fear.

I also know that you’re smart enough to know that the injection is a game-changer for the world and our first chance to see our lives return to some normality again.

If you have a needle fear, then chances are, it doesn’t matter that having the vaccine could improve things for you.

The good news is, you’re not alone.

The United States reports that approximately 50 million people have Trypanophobia (the fancy term for ‘needle phobia’) with 20% of these avoiding medical procedures altogether. Of the 60% of American adults who do not get the annual flu vaccination, 23% state that it is due to a fear of needles.

Good news! You don’t have to be one of the 23%!

Over the last few years, I have read an insane amount of research on needle pain, managing painful procedures in children and reducing needle fear as a result. I’m happy to say that some techniques can transfer to the adult context.

So, here are some tips to help you face your fear and get protected this year.

1. Chat with a Psychologist

If your fear is so bad that your blood pressure rises, you get heart palpitations, or you faint, then you should have a chat with your psychologist.

Your psychologist will be able to help you work through these responses and practice helping you manage them well enough so that you can attend your appointment.

Then you can move onto the next few tips for when you attend the clinic for your injection.

2. Have an open conversation with your Nurse or Doctor

You will need to chat with the person giving you the injection about your fear of needles.

I’ve seen many adults feel shame or embarrassment about their fear, but I’m here to tell you that I prefer knowing about this before I get ready for the procedure.

Why?

It helps me help you and gives me a chance to set up some added safety nets in the room because… needles. For example, place things in different spaces to prevent any accidental strikes, or I might ensure that I don’t prepare it all in front of you.

Please have a chat and ask them to work out a plan with you.

3. Ask your Doctor about numbing creams

There are a few creams on the market to help numb the injection site. It might be worthwhile asking about these if the pain is a concern for you.

You will need to find out how much time you need to give the cream to work, where to apply it, and when to apply it (some creams need up to 1 hour to work best).

4. Buy a Buzzy Bee®

Full disclosure here, I do not earn any kickbacks for recommending this product (or any others for that matter). I am just a massive fan of Buzzy®!

Buzzy® works by using ice and vibration to stop the pain messages travelling back to your brain.

It works on a theory called ‘Gate Theory’ where the brain senses non-painful signals and closes the gate to painful stimuli.

Buzzy® = less perceived pain in a nutshell.

That’s good enough for me.

5. Find Waldo

It is a little known fact that by solving a problem while receiving the injection, you may end up feeling the injection less than if you had just sat there.

There’s a scientific reason for this too.

The part of your brain that registers pain also handles problem-solving and counting.

Pretty cool, huh?

By solving a problem or counting during the injection, you are distracting yourself and using up the bandwidth in the part of your brain needed for pain perception.

One of my favourites is to find Waldo in a ‘Where’s Waldo’ picture. If it’s too hard to find him, count the number of people wearing hats or red shirts (see photo above) for example.

So, good luck with your injection and overcoming your fears.

You’ve got this.

Writer, Registered Nurse, Instructional Designer, UX Design Student | Sharing my research, thoughts and musings one post at a time.

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