COVID booster dose and needle phobia

Are you approaching the third or fourth dose of the VIDOC vaccine and you feel very afraid? You have not yet been vaccinated and you have gone through very negative situations and do not want to go and get it? You feel ashamed of what you feel and do not want to discuss it with your family or people you know? You understand that your fear is disproportionate, but you cannot do anything about it? When images of people getting vaccinated appear on TV, do you cover your eyes, get tense or want to leave? In short, are you too afraid of getting vaccinated for fear of having a bad time or fainting? Does this happen to a loved one? We are probably talking about a phobia.

What is a phobia?

A phobia is an intense and progressive fear or anxiety about a certain object, animal, activity or situation that offers little or no real danger. Is it normal to have phobias? No, it is not normal, but it is probable. In fact, 10% of the population suffers from a phobia, being the anxiety disorder most often seen in the office. Phobia is easily treated and with very good results. Treatments have advanced a lot using virtual reality as part of the treatment.

What are the most common phobias?

The most common phobias are the following:

  • Being in places where it is difficult to escape, such as crowds, bridges, or being alone outdoors.
  • Blood, injections and other medical procedures.
  • Certain animals, such as dogs, spiders or snakes.
  • Enclosed spaces.
  • Flying.
  • High places.
  • Insects or spiders.
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Is there a specific profile of people with a tendency to have phobias?

People who are more sensitive or have a tendency to sadness, people who are overprotected or have problems regulating their anxiety are more prone to suffer from phobias, as well as people who have gone through some traumatic experience related to the situation, object or situation related to their phobia.

Is it normal to have a phobia of the third dose of the COVID vaccine?

It can happen, it is not normal, but people who have had a negative experience are at higher risk. If we have had a bad experience, if we have been given negative information about vaccination, if we know of a family member who has had a bad experience, if at the time of vaccination we hear or see a person who feels unwell, there may be conditions for vaccination to end up being a very negative situation. We must not forget that this is not enough, it is also normal that it occurs in greater proportion in people who are more worried and who anticipate more negative situations, even without having any evidence.
Needle phobia is included in a specific group of phobias and is characterized by feeling a very intense and persistent fear that is totally unrelated to the situation that provokes it. People who have this phobia understand that their fear is uncontrollable, but they cannot do anything to feel better. This phobia can generate an important limitation in people who suffer from it, avoiding medical check-ups, not going to health centers, not being able to accompany family members to medical appointments and even not attending regular check-ups with the dentist.
The booster dose of the COVID vaccine or the first dose for those who have not yet decided to be vaccinated is coming up and many people may be going through these circumstances. This may be possible because they have had a negative experience at the time of receiving any of the previous doses or because they have had this problem in the past.
It is estimated that around 3% of the population has a fear of blood, and fear of injections or needles leads to avoidance of blood draws, a fact that can significantly delay the diagnosis of diseases.
The response to this phobia is presented in two phases. In the first instance, the person sees the needle or blood, which results in an increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, anxiety and/or sweating.
In the second phase, there is a rapid drop in blood pressure and heart rate, leading to loss of consciousness.

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Needle phobia case study

Maria is 18 years old. In her childhood she remembers having several very unfortunate experiences that led her to panic about needles and blood draws. Every time she thought about this situation or saw related information and images of people getting vaccinated on television, she became anxious. Her body would tense up, she would cover her eyes, and she needed to get away from where she was. As a way of coping with this fear, Maria did not agree to undergo tests, medical or dental check-ups.
Maria lives with a person at risk, and with the arrival of the pandemic she decided to get vaccinated. She asks for help to be able to deal with the situation that for her is uncontrollable and begins a systematic desensitization treatment at a psychologist’s office.
Phobias can start after going through a traumatic situation that leads us to systematically avoid this circumstance making the fear increase more and more. Sometimes, it can happen that those who suffer from it have received very negative information from relatives or acquaintances, or simply because the time that passes between a situation where they are exposed and the following one is long and does not allow the person to diminish their fear.

How are phobias treated?

The treatment that generates more consensus to treat phobias is psychotherapy. Among its different currents and variants, cognitive behavioral therapy is the one that provides the best results.
Exposure therapy is the cognitive-behavioral technique used for the treatment of phobias. If you recognize yourself in any of these situations or are going through a difficulty of this type, we recommend that you consult a health professional.
The data provided in this article are orientative and always depend on the consultation and diagnosis of a professional. For further information, please contact a specialist in Psychology.