This post is made possible with support from the Meg Foundation. All opinions are my own
I think we all have been there, sitting in the doctor’s office knowing that we need an injection, either for a pain medication, antibiotic, blood draw, or vaccine. The anticipation of the 2 seconds of pain brings out anxiety in most of us. It can be nerve-wracking.
The good news is there are things you can do to get through needle fear. I started working with these techniques with my son a few years back because he was very afraid of getting injections. When we had an appointment, there was always a lot of crying and sometimes having to hold his arm so he didn’t move and hurt himself or someone else in the room. I'm not sure who dreaded these appointments more, my son, me, or the nurses. The nurses were very calm and nice and told me that up to 63 percent of children exhibit needle fear, but parents can help kids prepare for their appointments to help with the anxiety. We started using techniques then, and now that he is a teenager, we continue with these techniques and just recently started applying new ones we learned from the Meg Foundation, a website with plenty of resources for both kids and adults to overcome the fear of needles.
Here is how my son planned for his COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
1. He completed the form and was prepared to tell the nurse he is normally scared of needles and he wanted for them to tell him when the shot was coming.
2. Through the years, we have discovered he doesn’t need any local anesthesia before the shot. He has realized that the pain he was so afraid of was actually quite minimal when compared to other types of pain he has felt before.
3. We decided he was going to listen to music on our way to his appointment and that during the moment just before the shot, he was going to be meditating.
4. During the moment of the shot, he was going to be breathing as we had practiced and also hold his hands together to distract his mind from the pain.
5. He also made a plan to look at the nurse but not the arm where they were applying the injection, and that really helped him with his anxiety levels.
6. Finally, the part that he probably looks forward to the most, the reward. We went out to get him a treat. He wanted a donut and take-out dinner. I let him pick the restaurant, too!
I have to say the planning was successful and really helped him to have a pleasant appointment, which was great for him, for me, and for sure for the nurse. Now for the best news ever, he just told me to schedule the appointment for a doctor visit because he is due for a booster of one of his childhood vaccines. We have been postponing it due to the health crisis last year, but mainly because I know he didn’t want to have a shot. Now he knows he can prepare for it.
So if you, your kids, or anyone you know have a fear of needles, know that help is at Hack the Vax. Think, plan, and go get your shot without fear! So just like my son, it is time to schedule that vaccine appointment that you have been hesitant to make.