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Special COVID-19 clinic helps people with needle phobias get vaccinated

Last Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 9:59 am MDT

A health worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine shot in Vung Tau, Vietnam on Monday, Sep.13, 2021. Vietnam is speeding up the vaccination program as it aims to loosen the coronavirus lockdown restrictions in major cities by the end of September. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)

CALGARY – As Alberta’s vaccination effort is hindered by misinformation, health workers are trying to help people overcome another roadblock: needle phobias.

But added training and a special Alberta Health Services vaccine clinic seems to be helping.

Kayla has a needle phobia. She says she knows it won’t hurt and she understands the importance of every vaccine, but something switches in her brain and she can’t help it.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever had a panic attack, but a lot of the symptoms are the same, where my heart starts to beat really fast and hard and my lungs feel like I can’t get enough air in them,” she explained.


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“I’ve passed out a couple of times, I have cried to the point where I’ve thrown up.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Katie Birnie says a fear of needles is more common than you might think and it’s prevented many people from getting their regular shots.

“We know that up to 60 per cent of children have some level of needle fear and even as much as 20 to 30 per cent of adults,” she told 660 NEWS.

“Even pre-pandemic there was some research that said seven to eight per cent of adults and children don’t actually get immunized because of a fear of needles.”


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More nurses have been trained to deal with it because of the pandemic and AHS has established a special clinic for people of all ages with phobias. You can access it by calling 811.

Kayla credits healthcare workers for helping her get through it and has managed to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

About 70 per cent of Albertans over 12 years old have been fully immunized.