Anxiety towards needles and/or vaccines is a real challenge for many adults and can be a barrier to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This fear can affect anyone and does not mean that someone is being too sensitive. In fact, the fear of needles is quite common. It affects up to 1 in 4 adults and the majority of children.
Getting vaccinated shouldn’t be a scary experience. Vaccines are a marvel of science that have led to a decline in the number of cases of several infectious diseases. The COVID-19 vaccine is no different.
Supports are available at CK Public Health clinics
When you do make your appointment with a CK Public Health Clinic, know that there are supports available and that our clinic staff are trained to support you. When you book your appointment at GetYourShotCK.ca, you are given the opportunity to let staff know that you are anxious; this helps us prepare and we will reach out for more information if necessary. You can also let a staff member know that you are nervous at any point in the vaccination process.
If the idea of attending a large vaccination centre or a pharmacy to get your vaccine is unsettling, consider attending one of our smaller mobile clinics. These are often at libraries, or other community settings, and may feel less intimidating than a larger clinic. Visit CKPHU.com/clinics for upcoming clinic options.
While CK Public Health cannot provide you with medical advice on how to manage your anxiety, we can provide you with general tips to help if your anxiety is making it difficult to be vaccinated. These are general tips, so while they may help, it is always best to talk to a professional to get personalized advise to help with your anxiety.
Tips for Managing Needle Fears and General Anxiety
- Come prepared for your vaccine by wearing short sleeves so the person vaccinating you has easy access to your arm;
- Take deep breaths! Breathe in, so your belly expands, then exhale slowly while focusing on your breath. This will help to calm you;
- Bring support with you. Holding the hand or hearing the voice of a partner, friend, or family member can help calm fears and anxiety;
- Choose which arm you receive the vaccine in; it’s your choice! If your arm does get sore after the vaccine, you will notice it less if the vaccine was given in your non-dominate arm (if you’re right handed, get the vaccine in your left arm);
- Sit up straight, unless you have a history of fainting. This will help to give you a sense of control;
- Listen to music, watch videos, read, or talk to the person who is giving you the vaccine;
- Relax your arm and let it dangle beside you to help the muscle relax. This will help reduce needlestick pain and soreness after; and/or
- Use a topical anesthetic to help with needlestick pain. These are available to buy at the pharmacy without a prescription. Talk to a pharmacist for more information and read the instructions before use.
Tips for Managing General Anxiety around Vaccines:
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and our best chance to get back to the things we’ve missed.
- Pay attention to what you feel. Get curious about your thoughts and worries without judging them. Ask yourself why you feel a certain way and be kind to yourself.
- Pay attention to what you want. Do you wish to have freedom to travel? Do you wish you could protect your community? Do you want to connect with your community or faith-based organization?
- Decrease news consumption. Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories including those on social media. It’s good to stay informed but pay attention to how it makes you feel too. If you feel overwhelmed, it’s ok to take a break!
- Focus on the fact that the vaccine is meaningful, interesting and a modern marvel. It is the best way to get back to our lives, including all the things you want.
Use the CARD System
The CARD System provides strategies that can be used to help cope with anxiety and fear before and during vaccination. In CARD, C is for Comfort, A is for Ask, R is for Relax, and D is for Distraction. By using the resource before your appointment, you can be better prepared to manage your anxiety when it is time for your vaccination. Most health care professionals, including CK Public Health staff, are familiar with this system and will support your use of the CARD system.
At CK Public Health, we want you to know that fear and anxiety should not be a barrier to you receiving the preventative care you need. COVID-19 can cause serious illness in anyone, but the COVID-19 vaccine can help to prevent serious illness and lessen the effects of illness. We’re here to support you. If you have questions, please call us at 519.355.1071 x 1900.