‘I want to get my vaccine, but I’m scared of needles’ – top tips for overcoming your fear of needles

Do you have a fear of needles? You’re not alone. Needle phobia affects at least 1 in 10 people and is nothing to be ashamed of.

10 Nov 2021
NHS South East London

Thankfully, our NHS vaccination teams have lots of experience of helping nervous patients get their jabs so mention any worries you have on arrival. Many sites have leaflets for people with needle phobia, full of tips on how to cope that you’ll be able to read ahead of your vaccine.

Top tips for overcoming your fear of needles

1. Come prepared – make sure you’ve eaten and are well hydrated before coming for your vaccination

2. Remember why you’re doing this – take time to think about why you’re having the jab, reminding yourself that the COVID-19 vaccine is saving lives and has been rigorously tested. Think about how getting the vaccine will benefit your family, friends and wider community too.

3. A technique called applied tension can help prevent fainting – make sure you’re sitting comfortably then tense the muscles in your arms, upper body and legs for 15 seconds. Release the tension then, after 20-30 seconds tense your muscles again. Repeat this five times.

4. Use breathing techniques if you’re feeling anxious – sit up straight in a comfortable position and let your shoulders and jaw relax. Put one hand low on your stomach. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this for five breaths. Try to do this three times a day for up to a week before your appointment.

Read more about these and other techniques in this sheet from Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. If you have a strong needle phobia, techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy can help, so talk to your GP.

Watch Leah and Dsiah overcome their fear of needles and get vaccinated