INDIANAPOLIS – With all the talk of the COVID-19 vaccine and who will or won’t be willing to get it, an interesting fact is being brought up about those who quite possibly may be too scared to get it, or any shot for that matter.
Roughly 25% of U.S. adults have trypanophobia — a fear of needles.
According to a recent study, needle fear has stopped roughly 16% of adult patients from getting the flu vaccine. It can also prevent some from seeking any kind of treatment of procedure that involves needles.
Dr. Anthony Zabel with IU Health says he’s seen plenty of patients afraid of needles, however, he points out there are a plethora of reason why someone may not want to take vaccines. He also says when it comes to important treatments that are sorely needed, patients tend to be a bit more flexible about doing what’s necessary.
“My trick is just to be open and honest and build rapport over time. In the moment, I think the more you push, the more the patient us going to push back. I think just providing the well-researched, correct medical information and your own professional recommendations and have the patient make the decision on their own,” Dr. Zabel said.
For those who can’t get over their fear of needles, there is help. Dr. Hillary Blake, a pediatric psychologist at Riley Hospital for Children, says she frequently helps patients get over their fear by using a technique called “exposure and response prevention.” Dr. Blake says the process essentially reprograms the brain using a fear ladder, where they detail and expose themselves to their fears.
“And you have them expose themselves to this fear, from the least scary thing first. Then gradually move up this ladder, exposing yourself to this scary thing that’s really fearful to you. And then what we find is that, as you work your way up this ladder and expose yourself to this fear, they become less scary,” Dr. Blake said.
However, Dr. Blake says the treatment can take time to become effective. There are also other methods of coping with needle fear. Dr. Blake recommends you distract yourself by getting on your phone or looking away. There’s also numbing creams and sprays to use and even a vibration device that can be placed above where you get the shot that works to confuse your nerves, allowing you to not feel pain.