Your Health Matters


Needle phobia hinders vaccinations, quarter of Americans fear shots and blood draws

Vaccination, Needle (FILE)
Posted at 11:25 AM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 14:27:20-05

(KERO) — Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But for millions of Americans fear of needles may make the decision to get the vaccine even harder. Mandy Gaither has ways to ease the fear.

While you probably don't describe getting a shot as fun some find that needle downright frightening. Alyssa Moody says when she was younger she'd even faint from her fear of needles.

"It's an instant panic. I get clammy, queasy, nauseous, shaky, sweaty. Everything you'd get in a really stressful situation."
About a quarter of American adults share that fear and an estimated 7-percent avoid immunizations because of it, according to the CDC.

If you're one of them you may be able to work through it on your own.

Cheryl Carmin, a psychologist at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center suggests overcoming a needle phobia with exposure. Placing yourself increasingly and repeatedly closer to what you fear. For example, you can begin by looking at drawings of needles, then photos. Then, try watching videos of immunizations until you can finally work your way up to getting an actual shot.

Another psychologist suggests reducing anxiety by relaxation techniques like meditation, Distracting yourself during a shot can help, too. Moody says that's one thing she now does.

"Keep my eyes focused on something other than what's happening on my arm or wherever else I'm getting the shot and that makes it tolerable."

If you have a severe fear or phobia it might be time to seek medical help. But, it's a good idea to do that soon because it may take a while to work through your fear and more COVID-19 vaccines will become available in the coming months.