needle phobias have power to disrupt WA jab rollout

What came next still gives me the heebie-jeebies. My GP inserted a numbing needle INTO the wound before sewing me up with five stitches. There was none of this coloured glue business they use these days or dissolvable stitches. These had to be tugged out later from my tender noggin.


So scared of needles I was from there on in I was yanked out of school when they had mass school-based immunisation drives so I could faint in the doctor’s office rather than a gymnasium full of my peers.

The fear continued into my 20s and 30s, so my mum or nanna would need to escort me to any medical procedures that involved needles. The slew of vaccines I needed before a backpacking trip around Vietnam. The time I sliced my hand open washing a wine glass. When I needed eye surgery.

I managed to avoid the worst needle of them all – the dreaded blood test – until I was pregnant in my late 20s. The thought of a needle siphoning my blood was enough to send my heart rate skyrocketing to 200 and drop my blood pressure so low I fainted.

I’ve convulsed. I’ve sweated so much that I’ve left a pool of water on the bed I need to lie down on. I was so staunchly averse to being jabbed in the back for an epidural that I gave birth to an oversized progeny sans drugs. Thankfully, the second one was a little undercooked.


Up to 10 per cent of the population has a moderate to severe phobia of needles, fancy name trypanophobia.

This small but not insignificant cohort of vaccine hesitant folk presents a problem for authorities pushing for Australia’s vaccination rate to nudge as close to 100 per cent as possible. It is a percentage that has the power to disrupt the vaccination program.

Complicating the matter is the fact it’s not one needle but at least two or three, possibly many more depending on how this unprecedented pandemic plays out.

A recent Oxford University survey of more than 15,000 adults in the UK suggests needle phobia accounts for about 10 per cent of COVID vaccine hesitancy.

So I’m not alone.

And while I have a healthy scepticism about vaccines and government directives that it’s perfectly safe, historically the experts do occasionally let some dangerous drugs through the net. Consider thalidomide, a drug marketed as a treatment for morning sickness in pregnant women in the late 50s and early 60s later found to cause serious birth defects. It was a tragedy.

But for now, I trust that the COVID vaccines currently available are the best way out of this pandemic.

So I rolled up my sleeve to do my bit. I avoided the mass vaccination centres which, frankly, are pretty public places to have a meltdown and a place where you’re herded through like cattle. I thought I’d be enduring the procedure under intense distress.

Honestly, the needle is tiny. It really doesn’t hurt a bit.

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