A shot of Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a clinic earlier this year. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Allay needle fears

The number of anti-vaxxers who are simply scared of needles is under-reported, says letter writer

To the editor,

The number of anti-vaxxers who are simply terrified of needles is vastly under-reported, and we need to address them if we want herd immunity on the Island.

Fear of injections is often listed last for the reasons people aren’t getting vaccinated, but let’s take a closer look at needle fear.

To start, I think we can all agree nobody likes admitting they’re scared. Especially when others aren’t. And when your fear-based choices are costing friends, family and neighbours their freedom? You better have a darn good reason on hand. So people make them up.

You’ve heard it before. For example, someone disparaging dogs as dirty or annoying (anything but scary) may not care if the dog in question is a trained and bathed. Later, if they trust you, they may whisper that they’re afraid of dogs, not dirt.

It’s human nature to reject fear and failure. Sour grapes. And social media—the place where users are invited to project an unrealistically positive version of themselves through selection and filters and FaceTune – is full of excuses. Doesn’t it make sense that in that context people will try very hard to present these excuses as fact?

When it comes to vaccines, we’ve been paying too much attention to excuses. And as a result we’re not addressing the natural human fear of breaking our skin.

Don’t wait for people with phobias to come forward and say so – they won’t. Just address the fear of needles. Offer anti-anxiety measures. Offer sedated vaccinations. Change out those ghastly alcohol swabs for something you can’t smell. Put a little costume on the syringe. This could be done at a local level, here in Nanaimo.

Work with people who have phobias, because you can’t logic or scold or force them to change.

Sure, there would be a cost to reducing that powerful panic response. But imagine having group hugs again, and maybe it’s worth it.

Zann Hemphill, Lantzville

READ ALSO: School disruption, ‘long COVID,’ all factors in choice to vaccinate young kids

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