This year has seen the fastest development of a vaccine in human history - an amazing marker for a year which had most of us staying at home and tuning into 1pm daily briefings. With the creation and testing of a potential innoculation for the Covid-19, thousands of people have come together to solve one of the largest health crises the World has ever seen and it can’t come soon enough (so say some). So what do we know about it, and how will it affect those with a fear of needles?
Earlier in the month, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced positive results in their testing for a vaccination for the Coronavirus. Preliminary results were encouraging and now they are suggesting that it is 95% effective, with the ability to protect those of an older age whose health could be more significantly affected by the virus. All of this means that they can seek permission for ‘emergency use’ in the USA and they are doing just that. They aren’t just looking to the States either; there are simultaneous submissions to regulators in Europe, UK, Canada and beyond to approve the use across many countries.
For New Zealand, this is a positive signal. The Government recently agreed to the purchase of 1.5 million doses of vaccine, which is enough to treat 750,000 people. This is a significant step in the direction which many are calling for - the opening of the border to reboot the economy and tourism sector. Hold your horses though, there hasn’t been any greater detail about the Government's plan beyond the expectation that the doses will be available for distribution in March 2021.
What about those with trypanophobia? The fear of needles looks to pose challenges for those individuals when the time comes to receive the inoculation, which is inevitably going to be administered through injection. One of the greatest risks of this phobia has always been that it leads to avoidant behaviour, steering away from important health checks and jabs. That means avoiding getting an injection of Pfizer (or other provider’s) vaccine and an increased likelihood of being ill.
If someone with needle phobia gets to the point where they accept they need to get the vaccine, this fear means that their pathway to actually receiving a dose is that much harder. The physical and emotional symptoms are exhausting, consuming and can feel like climbing a mountain, backwards. Maybe this sounds like you, or maybe you are reading this and have someone in mind? Either way, reach out, the significant health benefit can’t be understated here and a supportive person can make all the difference.
The best way to meet this fear is through preparation - what kind of vaccine plan can you put in place to minimise the phobia’s ability to stop you getting the vaccine? Consider all the obstacles that are affecting you and seek help where necessary. That might mean distracting yourself throughout the appointment; it might mean you don’t look, or do; perhaps you take someone along to support you; or maybe you talk it through with your GP well in advance. Each of these are just starter ideas to get you thinking.
Want to know more about what living with a fear of needles is like? Why not take a look at Kate Maxwell's article, living with a fear of needles - an inside look, who shares her experience of what it is like living with trypanophobia?
It seems safe to say that for those of us in Aotearoa New Zealand, a vaccine is the best bet to staying healthy while travelling abroad in the future. And for those on the outside looking in on this wonderful country with longing eyes, proof that you have received a vaccine may be your ticket in. Ultimately, that means creating a positive plan to manage your fears of needles is something you should prioritise. Remember, that there is always support available to do this and oVRcome can be just that.
As we get closer to a possible roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine, oVRcome are continuing to fine tune their programme which utilises exposure therapy using virtual reality technology to support individuals with phobias, such as trypanophobia. Why not take our Fear of Needles test and receive a free customised report with some actionable tips for your severity level? It might just help you prepare for a dose of the upcoming vaccine.