COVID Vaccination and Trypanophobia

Introduction: – While fear of injections is not uncommon, it can be extreme in some cases. Talking as of today’s scenario, currently India has two options for vaccine i.e. Covishield and Covaxin, both the vaccine are administered into the body of a person by injecting it in the arm deltoid muscle with an injection having a needle 1 inch to 1.5 inch in length.

What is Trypanophobia: –

Trypanophobia is the extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. It is more common in children and decreases as a person grows into adulthood with more medical experience. But for some people, however, this fear can remain extreme and distressing during adulthood. This disorder is commonly referred to as “needle phobia” by the general public.

An analysis by researchers at the University of Michigan showed that 20-30 percent of adults studied cited concern about needles, ranging from mild anxiety to a phobia strong enough to keep some from seeking medical care. 

Symptoms of Trypanophobia: –

If you have trypanophobia,

  1. One may dread during medical procedures, particularly injections.
  2. One is likely to experience high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate in the hours leading up to your procedure.
  3. During medical procedure, one’s blood pressure may rapidly drop.
  4.  During medical procedure one may even faint.

Other common symptoms of this phobia include:

  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Trembling

Consequences of Trypanophobia: –

  1. People will avoid medical treatments, due to their fear of needles (in this case, person will avoid getting vaccinated until possible or until some other route vaccine comes e.g. oral vaccine)
  2. In some cases, the feeling of anxiety can become so severe that a person experiences a panic attack.

Causes: –

Scientists are still unsure precisely what causes needle phobia. Like other specific phobias, a number of different factors may play a role.

  • Negative experiences involving needles.
  • Genetics and family history, it is estimated that about 80% of people who suffer from trypanophobia, have a first-degree relative suffering from same phobia.
  • It is possible that the fear is learned and not inherited.
  • Evolutionary influences – Some evolutionary psychologists believe that fear may be rooted in an ancient survival technique. Puncture wounds could be deadly, especially in ancient times.
  • In some cases, it is reflex to another person’s phobia.

Can a person get away from a phobia with strong will power?

“You cannot wish it away with a strong willpower, neither can you ignore the symptoms of such anxiety attacks,” says Dr Binita Priyambada, senior consultant, medical team at Docprime.com. She adds that phobias have distinct symptoms, and their impact can differ in terms of intensity and triggers.

Phobias are different from common fears, we need to understand this. Common fear may get away with will, but phobias cannot. Phobias need guided treatment from a specialist.

Personal Experience

One of author’s known person suffers from trypanophobia. She has a condition such severe that if she has to go for a routine medical check-up, someone has to go with her because not usually but sometimes she faints in situations involving injection (even sight), seeing blood, even sometimes the idea of hospital or a doctor visit makes her sick from the trypanophobia.

When she was asked for vaccination, obviously she made excuses if not she was actually scared to get vaccination because of needles.

Conclusion:

We all are afraid of something: – spiders, heights, flying, confined spaces or something else. But trypanophobia has emerged with a new meaning in this pandemic when the government talks about vaccinating every citizen. Experts are worried that people with a fear of needles, may avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Most of the people who even fear needles get the jab because they can overcome the fear, but phobia is not a thing which can be overcome just with ones will. For someone with a true needle phobia, the fear takes over and causes severe feelings of dread and anxiety. Even hearing or thinking about vaccinations may be enough for a person to react with trypanophobia.

Governments should take into consideration all these factors and should promote making of a vaccine with an oral route (not including needles) too. Russia and China have made nasal vaccine for children as well as for adults. This may be not a total solution for trypanophobia, but still it will decrease the impact as in such type of vaccine there are no needles involved.

Reference: –

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