Getting over a fear of needles for a COVID-19 jab

Posted on Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Medically-gloved hand holding needle

uOttawa School of Psychology team offers service to adults, adolescents to help them get over a fear of needles so they can get the COVID-19 vaccine

Andrea Ashbaugh

“It concerns me that vaccination rates are slowing, which makes achieving herd immunity a concern,” says Professor Ashbaugh.

The Centre for Psychological Services and Research (CPSR) is launching a free, evidence-based service to help adolescents (ages of 12-17) and adults (18+) identify and confront their needle fears by providing strategies to reduce their fears and manage symptoms when confronted with a jab.

Box out listing symptoms of fear of needles

“About 3.5 percent of the population are diagnosed with a phobia of needles and/or injections and research during COVID-19 suggests about 10 percent of people who have chosen not to be vaccinated may have done so specifically because of their fear of needles,” explains CPSR Director Andrea Ashbaugh, who created the initiative.

I suggested this initiative because interventions aimed at helping people with needle fears are brief and simple to administer and, therefore, well placed to help increase the rates of vaccination.”

Led by licensed clinical psychologists, interns and students, the CPSR will provide participants with the necessary training to confront their fears in a gradual manner at their own pace, with the hope they will get vaccinated by the end of the three-hour session.

“A key part of this is that these exposures are intentional, planned, and under control of the individual – they get to choose when they move onto the next item on their list of fears,” says Ashbaugh, who is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences and works with Anxiety Canada and the Institute of Mental Health Research.

The service will be held at the Minto Sports Complex with English sessions will be held on November 6 while French sessions will be held on November 13. Find more information here.

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