Needle phobia and vaccine hesitancy

I recently had the exciting opportunity to speak with a group of business owners, contractors and employees in the forestry industry about wellbeing. 

This was part of their Health, Safety, and Wellbeing meeting, and the topic of vaccinations came up during Q&A time. The question how to have conversations with those who are showing vaccine hesitancy was raised. As we know, the topic can be extremely polarising.  

vaccine decisions

None of us generally like being told what to do. 

Often this makes us want to dig our toes in further.  So a better approach can be to seek to understand the other persons perspective. As with many situations, what might be showing up on the surface – vaccine hesitancy and numerous objections, can be very different to what is really going on for a person.

Needle phobia or trypanophobia is a fear of medical procedures that involve needles or injections. It is very common, affecting at least one in 10 people, with estimates as high 25% of adults. For many people, fear of needles is linked to fainting or feeling faint. Others may endure debilitating panic attacks, with symptoms including changes in blood pressure, sweating and increased heart rate. It is nothing to be ashamed of. 

As an employer, you may be doing everything conceivable to make it easy for your team to be vaccinated, even arranging for onsite vaccinations or a group trip to the vaccination centre. But as an employee, are you going to risk fainting in front of your work mates? Or breaking out in a sweat or having a panic attack? Maybe not.

What are some options? 

Encourage open and safe conversations to get to understand what might be going on below the waterline for your people. Share information about needle phobia in a generalised way. Let your people know that it’s OK to take time to go to their doctor and talk their situation through. Make it easy for them to do that.

I recently heard of one guy who has gone down this road. He felt physiologically safe to have a conversation with his boss along the lines of “I will probably get the vax, but I need to do this in my own way and go and talk it through with my doctor to get some advice”. He wasn’t anti, he was hesitant. He was certainly not going to go public with his true reasons though – an extreme fear of needles. His boss was very supportive, and encouraging. The outcome: a positive result with a plan in place between the employee and GP to get him through this.  

If you’re looking to introduce concepts and kickstart more meaningful conversations around wellness, resiliency and culture, get in touch for a FREE Workplace Wellness discovery session to see if we can help you.

https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/medicines/i/injection-and-needle-phobia/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/terrified-of-needles-that-can-affect-your-health-2021042722470

https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/laws-and-regulations/operational-policy-framework/worksafe-positions/supporting-mentally-healthy-work/

https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/research/psychosocial-hazards-in-work-environments-and-effective-approaches-for-managing-them/

https://covid19.govt.nz/covid-19-vaccines/vaccinations-and-work/ 

https://www.employment.govt.nz/about/news-and-updates/government-announces-covid-19-workplace-vaccination-legislation/

 

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