COVID Vaccine: Why Are Some People So Afraid of Injections?

The extreme fear of needles, also known as trypanophobia, explained.

Updated
Mind It
2 min read
The extreme fear of needles, explained.
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As India gears up to launch the world’s largest COVID vaccination drive on 16 January, the government has tried to allay all kinds of worries and concerns regarding the safety of the vaccine candidates.

However, a certain section of people is scared for another reason - their fear of needles - also known as injection phobia.

This fear is not unusual. A lot of people experience sweating, racing heartbeat and shivers at just the mention of injections. In a few cases, this fear is extreme, and is given the name of ‘trypanophobia’.

What Explains Phobias?

Mayo Clinic explains, “A specific phobia involves an intense, persistent fear of a specific object or situation that's out of proportion to the actual risk.”

But why do only some people develop such phobias and others don’t? Doctors don’t really have clear and solid reasons for this.

Some factors or causes behind phobias are:

  • Negative experiences
  • Genetics and environment
  • Changes in the brain chemistry
  • Specific phobias that appear first up by age 10, but occur later in life
  • Sensitive or negative temperament
  • Hearing about negative experiences of others

What Is Trypanophobia?

Trypanophobia is an extreme and severe fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles.

According to a Healthline article, kids are especially afraid of injections because they are not familiar with the sensation of their skins being pricket this way. The fear for needles usually subsides as people age. But for some, it stays into adulthood, and often turns extreme.

Causes of Trypanophobia:

  • Having a vasovagal reflex reaction upon being pricked by a needle; and fainting or experiencing dizziness as a result
  • Negative experiences and memories of painful injections
  • Hypochondria
  • Pain sensitivity; which can be a result of genetic factors
  • A fear of restraint may also be confused with trypanophobia

Symptoms of Trypanophobia

The signs and symptoms can be severe and could interfere with a person’s life quality. They are usually triggered at the sight of a needle or at being told they will need to be pricked by one.

Healthline mentions the following symptoms:

  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • panic attacks
  • high blood pressure
  • racing heart rate
  • feeling emotionally or physically violent
  • avoiding or running away from medical care

Can We Get Over Our Phobias?

The process of coping or getting over phobias can be different for everybody. Some people may not be able to ever do it, but they learn how to live with it.

A doctor’s help is needed in a lot of these cases. Cognitive-behavioural therapy, clinical hypnotherapy or self-help methods are some ways through which trypanophobia could be managed.

Studies on the phobia shows this type of fear is more likely to be present among children and gets better with age, says a BBC report. 10% of Britain’s population is understood to be affected by this.

However, some vaccine shots can only be taken via injections. Despite the phobia, people may have no option but to get them, because the alternative of falling sick because of diseases and infections is more dangerous and unsafe.

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