Adults: Managing Needle Fears

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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.  

Pain or fear associated with vaccinations can cause stress and anxiety for many adults, causing some to delay or avoid them. Below are some tips you can use to help you reduce the stress, anxiety, and discomfort associated with immunizations.

  • Let your health care provider know that you experience stress or anxiety with needles or injections.
  • 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 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.
  • You can buy topical anesthetics that can help reduce immunization pain at a pharmacy without a prescription. These will need to be applied before your appointment. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist for more information.

Find more information on reducing pain, stress, and anxiety with vaccinations here

Knowing what to expect at the clinic can help to reduce stress leading up to a vaccination appointment.

Date last reviewed: 
Thursday, May 27, 2021