Tips for reducing pain, stress, & anxiety with vaccinations

Adults

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Are needle fears preventing you from getting vaccinated against COVID-19? There are supports available for you. If you live in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, click here for more information. If you live in the Fraser Health region, click here.  If you live outside of these areas, contact your local health unit and ask to speak with a public health nurse.  

Reducing pain, stress, and anxiety with vaccinations.

If you're avoiding getting vaccinated because you have a fear of needles, you're not alone. Pain or fear associated with vaccinations can cause stress and anxiety for many adults and can lead some to delay getting vaccinated or avoid vaccines altogether. Fortunately, there are many strategies that can be used before and during the appointment to help reduce pain, stress, and anxiety with vaccinations. Use the tips below for a more positive vaccination experience. 

Sit upright

Sit upright unless you have a history of fainting (if this is the case, let your health care provider know). This will help to promote a sense of control.

Take deep breaths

Breathe in, so your belly expands, then exhale slowly. This will help to calm you.

Relax your arm

 It may help to dangle your arm beside you to ensure your muscle is relaxed.

Distract yourself

Use distraction to take your attention away from the injection. Listening to music, watching videos, reading, or talking to your health care provider or someone else can all help to distract you.

Consider using numbing creams or patches

You can buy topical anesthetics that can help reduce vaccination pain at a pharmacy without a prescription. These will need to be applied before your appointment. For specific information on where to apply numbing creams or patches, ask your health care provider or go to this handout

Use the CARD system.

Nervous about getting needles? You can use the CARD (Comfort, Ask, Relax, Distract) system to have a more positive vaccination experience. Learn about the CARD system in this handout.

CARD system handout 

CARD system videos

Watch these short videos on how to use the CARD system if:

  • Vaccinations make you nervous.
  • Vaccinations make you feel stressed.
  • You have vaccination questions.
  • Vaccinations make you feel uncomfortable.
COMFORT CARD

ASK CARD

RELAX CARD

DISTRACT CARD

 

 
Date last reviewed: 
Friday, Oct 08, 2021