Covid Vaccinations

As the vaccine rollout occurs in New Zealand, we recognise that some people might be feeling very hesitant or anxious around receiving the vaccine – this might be in relation to the vaccine itself, or in relation to the delivery method – an injection. 
We have gathered some useful information that may make the process easier for yourself, whānau or tamariki:  
(Note: these are resources we've collated from other sources for ease of access by members and the public. We do not endorse or give any assurance as to their effectiveness) 

Needle Phobia 

A fear of needles is very real for many people, but there are some simple suggestions that can help with overcoming the fear – at least for long enough to get vaccinated.  
General advice on decreasing anxiety around injections:  

For Children – advice on helping children address:  

The Royal Childrens Hospital Melbourne have some fantastic pdf's with advice on different techniques, these are all from this website:  


For Teenagers and Adults:  

If you’re facing a vaccination needle – the best strategy is to have a plan beforehand. Suggestions include:  

  • Discuss the procedure with a clinician before going to the appointment  
  • Bring a friend along.  
  • Diaphragm Breathing and Relaxation -  
  • Muscle Relaxation – tensing different muscles in your body, holding for a few seconds and then relaxing them can reduce anxiety and create a feeling of relaxation.  
  • Have a game you can play while it’s all happening – that way, the brain is too busy to be afraid, and pain perception goes down. Any smartphone app involving touch and skill is a great place to start. 
  • A physical intervention during the procedure – pointing, touching, coughing – can help. Pretending to cough may be useful – just make sure you don't move too much 
  • Combine rote performance and visual identification. During the poke, look at something on the wall with writing on it; focus on one sentence and count the number of letters with holes in them (for example, there are two in “holes”). This engages the part of the brain responsible for analyzing risk 
  • Applied Tension is an easy technique that increases blood pressure to help prevent you fainting – see guidance on this and breathing in the pdf (Overcoming your Needle Phobia
  • Swearing could also help: A recent study found that swearing reduced pain by one-third compared to saying nonsense words. 

These tips adapted from:   


Pacific Resources on navigating anxiety:  

For Psychologists to assist Clients:  

How Psychologists can help patients with injection fear:  

Psychological Interventions for needle-related procedural pain and distress in children and adolescents (pdf) 

Exposure-based interventions for the management of individuals with high levels of needle fear across the life span: a clinical practice guideline and call for further research  (pdf) 

Needle Phobia in Children: A discussion of aetiology and treatment options (pdf) 

Vaccine- Hesitancy 

Many people are also hesitant about the vaccine – whether due to concerns about its safety, efficacy or something else.  
Safety information can be found here:  

Advice on supporting someone to address their hesitancy can be found here: 

This might help overcome the mindset of vaccine resistance - research points to a strategy that can help overcome vaccine hesistancy 

For psychologists:  

A Behavior-Analytic Approach to Antivaccination Practices:  

Psychological factors affecting Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy  



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