Tips for Needle Anxiety - Nemours Blog


Tips for Needle Anxiety

Tips for Needle Anxiety

With the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine approved for ages 5-11, there are going to be a lot more young and brave individuals stepping up to receive their shots. But what about those who have trouble with the thought of coming face to face with a needle? Even though it may seem scary, the more people that receive the vaccine, the closer we get to herd immunity. Here are some tips and tricks to ease the fear of needles.

  1. Distract yourself while you’re waiting. Bring along a game, book, music, or movie — something you’ll get completely caught up in so you’re not sitting in the waiting room thinking about the shot. Some doctors’ offices schedule “shot clinics” where they do nothing but give shots so the wait time is shorter.
  2. Concentrate on taking slow, deep breaths. Breathe all the way down into your belly. Deep breathing can help people relax — and concentrating on something other than the shot can take your mind off it.
  3. Focus intently on something in the room. Find a picture, poster, or a sign on the wall. Concentrate on the details: If you’re looking at a painting, for example, try counting the number of flowers in the garden, cows in the field, or other images. Or create as many new words as you can using the lettering on a sign. Think about how the message on a health awareness poster might affect you. Whatever it takes, keep focusing on something other than the shot until it’s over.
  4. Listen to music. Wearing headphones and listening to your favorite songs can help take your mind off the situation and put you in a better mood.
  5. Practice positive self-talk. Say things like “I can do this” or “It will be over in a few seconds.” You can also remind yourself that what you’re doing is not only helping yourself stay safe, but helping those around you stay safe too.
  6. Relax your arm. If you’re tense, it can make a shot hurt more — especially if you tense up the area where you’re getting the shot.

And remember, you can always tell the doctor or nurse that you’re nervous before getting the shot. Medical professionals are used to people who are afraid of shots, and they’ll be able to help you relax. Mental health professionals and child-life specialists also offer education, support, and tools to help kids face fears and feel more comfortable getting their shots.

Leah Orchinik, PhD

Leah Orchinik, PhD, is a pediatric psychologist at Nemours Children's Hospital in Wilmington, Del.