If a fear of needles is stopping you from getting vaccinated, here are 5 ways to overcome that phobia

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A fear of needles is real, and it might be stopping some individuals from getting jabbed.
A fear of needles is real, and it might be stopping some individuals from getting jabbed.
Brenton Geach/Getty

Not everyone who questions getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is an anti-vaxxer.

While some people are rushing to get the jab, for others the thought of getting a needle prick in the arm can produce sweaty palms, heart palpitations, anxiety and dizziness.

Read more | Letters | To the men out there scared of needles: get vaccinated

A fear of needles, also known as trypanophobia, can stop people from getting vaccinated. And it's clear from a few videos making the rounds on social media that some individuals fear needles.

Like many fears, trypanophobia can stem from a variety of experiences or conditions. 

According to Health24, a fear of needles is a disorder causing one to feel anxious about a needle being inserted into their body. It can lead to some people fainting or cause their blood pressure to skyrocket.

Dr Welcome Mlilo, a medical doctor who has personally delivered some vaccines, tells Drum there are ways of reducing the anxiety. One of the main things health practitioners do is explain the process and ensure the patient understands.

“Like all fears someone needs time to understand the process and how it will be," says Dr Mlilo. "The more they become relaxed, there more they feel at ease.

"The needle is so tiny. It's not the typical needle that is used in most injections because the dose we are trying to deliver is a tiny dose. I tell my patients they won’t feel anything, even though there is slight pain after the depositing of the vaccine. But the procedure itself is painless."

Importantly, for those who fear needles, he says "relax your muscles". It is common for individuals to clench their fists and tighten their muscles, but this can make it seem to hurt more.

Here are 5 tips to overcome this fear 

1. Reframe your thinking

Advent health, suggest that you reframe your thinking. Phobias are an irrational fear, therefore remind yourself that any pain associated with the shot will soon be over.

2. Face your fear

While the easiest thing to do might be avoiding getting that jab in the first place, overcoming the fear of needles will make you feel good. Advent health says before your appointment, view pictures of needles, or try handling a needle as this might help you overcome your anxiety. Once the needle becomes familiar, you’ll be less fearful. 

3. Speak to a therapist

Therapists are trained to help patients develop coping skills towards certain fears and can help you explore where the fear may be coming from, so speak to a psychotherapist,  Memorial Care recommends. 

4. Pain reduction

To get you a feeling of control you can ask a doctor for pain medication, according to Health24.

5. Look away

Unfortunately, you cannot avoid needles forever. But one of the ways to gather enough courage for your jab is to try not to look, says Dr Welcome. 

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