Fear of needles

Did you know that many people are afraid of needles? As many as one in three Dutch people have a fear of needles. This fear can range from mild revulsion to total panic. 

What does fear of needles mean? 

Fear of needles simply means being afraid of stings or needles. A bit of aversion is normal: most people don’t like the idea of being injected, but can get over it. A vaccination may mean that you are going to travel soon, so it can also have something positive! 
However, a small group of people have great difficulty with injections and will avoid any situation in which they might be injected. About one in a thousand people has an extreme form of fear of needles. That is about 15,000-17,000 Dutch people. 

How does fear of needles arise? 

A person with fear has often had an unpleasant experience, for example if you were forced to get an injection as a child. Some people find it difficult to let go of control when they get a shot. This can lead to faster breathing and elevated heart rate, nausea or fainting. The body prepares for fight, flight or freeze. It doesn’t help to say that it’s just an injection and that it won’t be too bad. 

Fear of needles in adults 

If you have a fear of needles, there are several things you can do: 
• Make sure you are well rested and have eaten and drank well. 
• Don’t be ashamed to share your fear of injections and clearly state what you like or dislike. Our nurses are trained to deal with your anxiety and are happy to provide extra time and explanation. See also our fear of needles consultation. 
• Find distraction by, for example, listening to music or watching a movie. 
• Do not look at your arm during the injection and relax as much as possible. 
• Do breathing exercises to help you relax. 
• If you are afraid of fainting, drink a large glass of water and eat something salty before the injection. Ask if you can lie down during the injection. 
• Take someone with you for distraction and support. 

Fear of needles in children 

Getting a vaccination is a little scary for almost all children. A little tension is normal, but some children find it very scary. About 15 percent of children even have a severe form of fear of needles. 
Fear of needles in adults often arises from traumatic experiences in childhood. If you, as a parent, find yourself in a situation where your child really does not want to cooperate and the tendency to use coercion arises, this is a signal to stop and consider a more comfortable alternative. 
What can you do for a child with a fear of needles: 
• Prepare your child well and tell him with honesty what is going to happen. 
• Listen to your child, ask questions and show understanding. Give your child a feeling of control. 
• Stay calm and radiate confidence. 
• Provide distraction, for example by talking together or playing a game. 
• Compliment your child afterwards, for example: You sat still very well, You did well or I am proud of you. 
• Agree in advance who will talk to your child. This could be you or the nurse. 
• Give sugar water to children up to about 1 year old: Up to about 1 year old, your child can drink a small amount of sugar water 2 minutes before the injection. This means he or she will experience less pain during the vaccination. 
These are the correct proportions for sugar water: 
10 ml of water with 2.5 teaspoons of sugar 
20 ml of water with 5 teaspoons of sugar 
30 ml of water with 7.5 teaspoons of sugar 
60 ml of water with 15 teaspoons of sugar 
A teaspoon (tsp) is a standard measurement, similar to that used in cooking recipes. 
You can also give children who receive injections around the age of 11-14 months a little bit of a sweet drink. For example Diksap or Roosvicee, diluted with water. 
The sugar releases substances that reduce pain or makes children feel more comfortable because of the sweet taste. For older children, a lollipop could potentially do the same. 

Buzzy® for pain relief in case of fear of needle sticks 

There is currently a trial with the Buzzy® at the Wageningen location of vaccincentrum.nl. This small device has cold pads in the shape of wings. Thanks to its vibrating and skin-cooling effect, the Buzzy® provides distraction and a proven pain-relieving effect during injections. The Buzzy® is placed on the injection site prior to the injection and then between the injection site and the brain (‘between the pain and the brain’) during the injection. The buzzing and vibrating of the Buzzy® disrupts the nerves in that area, so the sharp pain is not felt. A tactile sensation may still occur, but no longer the pain of the injection. The Buzzy® can be used for all types of injections, in children and adults. We have already had positive experiences with the Buzzy® and are hopeful about the results. 

Important to realize 

Remember that the Buzzy® is not a miracle cure and may not always provide 100% pain relief. 
It is usually not necessary to give a vaccination at a specific time if it is not possible. We never force you or your child to have a vaccination. We do everything we can to make the experience as pleasant as possible through our special fear of needles consultation. 

What is a fear of injection consultation? 

You can book a ‘fear of needles’ consultation with us. The consultation will take place through phone with a nurse. We will then take extra time to look at what helps to make the experience as pleasant as possible and pay extra attention to your wishes. We can also use the Buzzy® during this consultation. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this first, please feel free to call us: 085-9020303.
If you would like to book the consultation, please indicate this when making the appointment. You can only make an appointment bij phone: 085-9020303 .
Because a needlestick consultation takes a little longer, we charge a different price for this. You can find these on our prices page