Fear of needles? Three coping strategies you can use at your COVID-19 vaccination appointment
Fear of needles may give some people pause when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. Although a quick needlestick will help protect you, with much less pain and suffering than you could experience from the illness itself, hesitation about actually getting an injection is understandable.
Medical professionals deal with this issue in everyday practice, so put any fear and embarrassment aside. They’ve seen it all. More than likely, getting immunized will be less painful than you might have thought.
Here are three coping strategies to deal with a fear of needles:
Let the healthcare professional know you are nervous: Nurses, doctors and other health care workers are used to treating anxious patients. Talking through the situation may be helpful to you and she or he can offer additional strategies that can be a good way to get through the appointment. Depending on the vaccination site, you may be able to request a place to lie down or to stand in a door frame where you can look at a different setting.
Work through calming exercises: Inhale for three counts, hold your breath and count to three, then exhale for three counts. Distract yourself with positive thoughts. Daydream about where you want to vacation after the pandemic is over or think of who you want to hug later. Lower your shoulders, loosen your jaw and relax.
Shift your focus: Engage your other senses. Keep your mind and your eyes off the needle by concentrating on wiggling your toes. Focus on the sounds around you or start a conversation with others. If you have something on-hand you find comforting to smell, taking it out while being immunized should be fine. Vaccines are given quickly and will be over before you know it.
Some individuals find needle aversion therapy worthwhile. Talk with your doctor if you need a referral for a qualified counselor.
Needle fears aside, the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh any temporary discomfort. Protecting yourself and others, including the immunocompromised and those too young to be vaccinated, also contributes to herd immunity. The vaccine helps mitigate the pandemic’s effects on business, school and family life. Alleviating the stress on our medical system and frontline workers will only happen when fewer people are getting sick. Achieving at least 70% herd immunity is the public health goal to eliminate continual new cases.
Thank you for working through your fear of needles to get vaccinated. It truly does help make for a better year, together.