Cartoon image of a man showing his arm where he received a vaccination

With all the talk about COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, chances are you’ve also seen many images of needles going into arms – the classic visual representation of immunisation.

For many, needles are hardly the bestselling tool to get them along to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. You might be motivated by the many reasons that make being vaccinated for COVID-19 a good idea but apprehensive about the injection itself. Rest assured, if this is you, you are not alone and there are things you can do to help overcome any nerves you have.

Here are a few things to keep in mind that might help:

  1. Prepare well for your appointment. Make sure you are wearing clothing with easy access to your arm and don’t go along hungry. Arm yourself with good information - seek out answers to any questions you may have from trusted sources beforehand. You may like to discuss them with your health provider before your vaccine appointment.
  2. Let your vaccinator know you aren’t a fan of needles. They’ve seen it before, and with a heads up it will ensure they are well-tuned in to accommodating your nerves and supporting you through.
  3. Relax. You might already have some go-to relaxation tactics on hand for other settings. For example, many people are familiar with deep abdominal breathing. You may want to practice some relaxation techniques that appeal to you before your appointment.
  4. Use distraction. Some people choose to watch the injection, but many prefer to be distracted. You could bring a support person along as a helpful distraction, play a game or a video on your phone, listen to music, or simply chat to your vaccinator.
  5. Take comfort in the professionalism of the vaccinators and workforce there to support you at your COVID-19 vaccination appointment. They have been trained to ensure your comfort and make the process as quick and painless as possible.

If you might describe your dislike of needles more as a fear or phobia, talking to a health professional is a good idea. There are other exercises and interventions available that a clinician can advise you on and support you with the best option for your personal situation.