It is finally summer! Before transitioning into relaxation mode, ensure that your child is up to date on their vaccinations and ready for the next school year. Now that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available for young children, getting your child their first COVID-19 vaccination may be your radar. If your child experiences extreme needle anxiety or a needle phobia, this could be a cause for concern. We understand and are here to help.
Understanding Needle Phobia
Many children, and even some adults, experience needle phobia. When getting ready to receive a shot or vaccine, those with a fear of needles can experience an increased heart rate, chest pain or tightness in their chest, dizziness, and more. This fear manifests in real, physical symptoms, and it’s not a feeling that someone can turn on or off.
Needle phobia often stems from a past experience with pain, which causes a strong reaction to procedures involving a needle. Those experiencing needle phobia may delay or avoid seeking the care they need. This can include receiving important shots like the COVID-19 vaccine.
Minimizing Needle Phobia
“You’re getting a shot,” is a phrase dreaded by most kids. As a parent, it can be hard to see your child distressed, even if it is temporary. There are ways we can help our children overcome needle anxiety.
Try distracting your child with smiling, eye contact, toys, books, talking, or singing. Parents can also provide comfort in the form of hugs, snuggles, soothing talk, or breastfeeding. Some clinics may have cold packs to help numb or soothe the injection site, though these may not be universally available. With older children, parents can help by giving simple, realistic expectations like, “You might feel a little pinch or sting, but the feeling will not last long.”
For children expressing a higher level of distress, parents can lead their children in slow, deep breathing for a minute before the nurse comes in.
Working With Your Provider
If you are unsure about what to do and feel like you have tried everything without success, a behavioral health provider may be able to help. They are trained professionals who help patients develop coping skills and determine whether there may be an underlying factor to your child’s needle phobia.
Where and When to Get Your Children Vaccinated
Peak Vista is offering COVID-19 vaccinations by appointment, free of charge. IDs and insurance are not required, and you do not have to be a Peak Vista patient. A provider can discuss age guidelines and let you know when your child is due for their first or next dose. The exact number and timing of doses depends on your child’s age, health, and whether they have already received a COVID-19 vaccination. Do your part, protect yourself, and protect others.