We all have things we're afraid of. But one common fear, in particular, has now taken on new meaning throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts are growing concerned that people with a fear of needles, also known as Trypanophobia, may avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Someone who identifies with this fear may endure extreme dread and anxiety when hearing or thinking about getting the vaccine. They may also avoid or refrain from getting necessary medical care as a result. 

Alongside extreme anxiety, other symptoms of Trypanophobia can include:

  • dizziness 
  • fainting 
  • insomnia
  • high blood pressure
  •  elevated heart rate
  •  feeling emotionally or physically aggressive

Whether your needle phobia is keeping you from getting the COVID-19 vaccine or causing distress about it, here are 6 ways to overcome it:

  1. Seek professional help. Some mental health professionals are experienced in helping people with phobias and can help you better understand your fear and guide you in learning new coping strategies. 

  2. Tell the nurse about your anxiety before getting the shot. If you feel that your fear is so severe that you're at risk for fainting, inform the nurse. There may be specific products available or techniques they use to reduce the risk- like having you lay down instead of sitting upright. Some vaccination centers may allow you to bring someone for support if you feel that would be helpful. Be sure to ask ahead of time! 

  3. Distract yourself. You could choose to watch a video on YouTube, listen to your favorite song, or point out all of the blue objects in the room. Remember, the entire process only takes a few seconds, so choose something you could focus on beforehand.  

  4. Associate the vaccine with positivity. Pay attention to some of the pictures people post after getting their vaccine. This tricks your brain into associating positive feelings with the vaccine. Remember, the more grateful posts, stickers, selfies, you see, the better!

  5. Practice mindful exercises. Not only do anxiety and stress have an exhausting impact on your body, but it won’t make the appointment any easier to get through. Consider utilizing various relaxation techniques like deep breathing or short meditations to calm your nerves before and during your appointment.

  6. Focus on the benefits of the vaccine. Many of us will find that the anticipation of receiving the vaccine is more stressful than the actual event itself. In the case of COVID-19, getting a vaccine means we're one step closer to returning to normal. Remind yourself of this whenever you feel any anxiety or nervousness arise; it'll shift your perspective and ultimately make it a less stressful experience for you.



It's OK to be nervous! Focus on the benefits, practice relaxation strategies, and get professional help if you need to.  It'll be over before you know it, and you'll (deservingly) feel a sense of accomplishment and pride knowing that you're doing your part.