Needle Phobia

Parent Q&A

Where do I get flu vaccine nasal spray Sep 27, 2019 (1 responses below)
Teen's phobia of shots debilitating, help. Jul 27, 2019 (9 responses below)
  • Where do I get flu vaccine nasal spray

    (1 reply)

    I have a very needle phobic kid. I heard that they nasal spray is available again this year but can't find anywhere that stocks it (his pediatrician wasn't able to get any). Costco , CVS, Walmart, Walgreens and Pharmaca (Rockridge) don't have it.  Anyone know of somewhere that does?


    You can get one at Castro Valley Pediatrics 510-581-1446.  My child goes there.

  • Teen's phobia of shots debilitating, help.

    (9 replies)

    My teen has a severe prohibitive phobia of shots, and is unable to get them. My teen would need to be restrained, let alone the emotional damage that would be caused and that he is big and strong. What do I do? We've done therapy, and for several years while we tried to process the situation he was able to receive waivers that allowed him to go to school, but not any more. My child has some vaccines, but 3 years ago something changed - and contrary to our persistence, he has not been able to overcome the fear. Any suggestions on how to deal with this huge obstacle? Does anyone know of a doctor that would give laughing gas additionally to vaccinating? A doctor that would work with us and be understanding? Most of our Kaiser doctors have not taken the phobia serious and not perceived it as a valid impediment. I'd like my child to get fully vaccinated, and to be able to return to high school next year (10th grade). Any suggestions appreciated, thank you.

    I completely empathize with you and your son. My daughter also (has/had) a phobia about shots but fortunately we were able to work through it. It started when she was about 12 years old...she would faint. Fortunately our pediatrician was very patient and understanding. They would have her lay down on a table and (despite her age) give her a "buzzy bee" vibrating ice pack before the shot to help. I would stay with her and try to help as well. She is now 18 and has mostly worked through her phobia. She had to have major surgery last year so was poked and prodded so many times just the exposure to everything forced her to deal with her phobia head on. She is now able to get shots and IVs without the paralyzing fear or fainting. I would suggest cognitive behavior therapy if you have reached a point where nothing is working. Good luck.

    This sounds very difficult and I'm so sorry you are experiencing it. Our teen's therapist specializes in anxiety and phobias. She is very good. She has a lot of teen and young adult clients. Her name is Anatasia Kim (correct spelling) and she is at The Wright Institute in Berkeley. She has spoken to us specifically about needle phobia in our therapy sessions when she talks about how CBT/DBT works. She sent us an email saying she'd be out of the country for a couple of weeks but I think she will be back next week. Her fees are worth every cent. Also you've probably tried this, but when our kid was having trouble with injections, they had someone call us and advise us. We ended up applying burn gel skin numbing cream an hour before the injection and wrapping it with plastic wrap until the injection. Also at Kaiser Oakland in the pediatric building (tall one by Mosswood Park) there is a person in the injection clinic who takes anxiety over injections very seriously. She has been there since our kid was a baby. She has a small, strong frame, short grey hair and is likely in her 60s. She had our kid lie down, instructed us in breathing, had us wait for 15 minutes on the exam table before leaving and do a particular movement to get the blood flowing so there would be no fainting. She noted that our kid was pale and clammy, really observed the state they were in, and treated them carefully and with thoughtfulness and seriousness so if you can ask for her I know she would be understanding and helpful. She takes it seriously. I wish you the very best of luck. What a good and loving mom you are.

    Sorry to hear what you are going through.

    I’m a nurse working in pediatrics and have given hundreds of shots to little and big kids. I have seen a lot of extreme anxiety over the years so I know the fear is real. Usually getting past the first one helps.

    I’d be willing to talk to you if you’d like.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Pediatrician for needle-phobic 6-year-old

Nov 2010

My 6-year-old son has a terrible needle phobia. So we are in search of a compassionate pediatrician who would be willing to work with him either behaviorally or with sedatives/anesthesia. Our current pediatrician favors restraining him for shots, which I refuse to do. Any leads would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Sad Mom

Ralph Berberich at the pediatric medical group in Berkeley has done extensive work in preparing children for immunizations with hypnosis. I have worked with him professionally and think highly of him. Medical professional

You should consider Ralph Berberich MD. He is a leader in techniques to help children with shots. I have personally seen him make a tremendous difference for children and their families about phobias such as this... Anon

My 10 year old daughter was exactly the same way until this year when a parent told us about using Lidocaine cream 10 minutes before the shot. My daughter's behavior and anxiety was so bad that nurses would remember her from year to year when she got a flu shot. It was horrid. However, she had to have two booster shots this year, we put the Lidocaine on both upper arms just in case they used the other arm. We explained that the cream would help her not physically feel the shot. We then helped her manage the anxiety. It helped that we went when there was almost no wait time. Also, the thing I love, love, love about Kaiser is that the pediatrician does not give shots and they are not even given in the regular pediatrician's office.

My daughter does not associate the shots with a visit to the doctor at all. Sometimes the shots are on the same day as an office visit and sometimes they're not.

My daughter admitted that she was nervous about going in for shots this last time, but also said she did not feel the shots AT ALL with the Lidocaine - best $8.00 we've ever spent. Mom of an anxiety-free daughter (about shots anyway)

Teen daughter has a needle phobia

April 2010

My teenage daughter has a phobia with needles and has had a hard time with any vaccinations lately. She just had a blood draw and almost passed out. She had an anxiety attack about it the night before. Then she was very upset during the draw and afterwards had the shakes, was light- headed and had to take awhile to calm down. She held a stuffed animal during the procedure to try to help her stay calm. I tried to get her to use a focal point and relaxation techniques. Does anyone have suggestions about how to help her more for the next time she needs her blood tested? I want to give her tools to help her the rest of her life with this.

I am 60 and have had this phobia since I was 11. I used to be embarassed and ashamed and put up with numerous attitudes about being 'adult', now, I won't. I tell the person taking my blood, straight out, I'm a wuss and have passed out in the past. This is the truth. I tell them to be gentle and at least half the time they will ask me if I want to lay down for the draw. I tell them to engage me in conversation, about anything, as it keeps me diverted, I also never look at the damn needle. In the past I have tried using an ice cube to numb the area first, only good if you know where they are going to draw, also headphones playing LOUD music (diversion). Unless it's a fasting situation, I make sure to drink lots of water, and to eat something prior, as it helps with keeping blood pressure up. I also will take Rescue Remedy once in awhile. It is a homeopathic remedy that is good for calming. I also try to schedule first thing in the morning so I don't think about it all day. Much better than I used to be, and not willing to put up with any crap about being sensitive. Your daughter is in great company. Been there

Well, I had a needle phobia as a child, too. Occasionally, I fainted. Some things that helped:
(1) not looking at the injection taking place, at all, or even at the needle, beforehand.
(2) Having someone kind gently stroke or pat me on the other arm or on the leg during the procedure, so I could concentrate on their love and the comforting sensation
(3) Needing allergy shots for bee stings -- I was more phobic about the bees and my reaction to a sting than the 2 allergy shots a week, for a year. I still don't look when I get a vaccine, dental novacaine or a blood draw, but I no longer freak out.
(4) When getting an epidural for a C-section, I visualized flower buds opening. I wish your daughter luck in finding her own paths to overcoming this fear and think it's wonderful that you want to support her in this. -- adapted

Hi -- I have the same problem and I think it was at its peak when I was a teen. The worst experience I had was when I got up quickly after a blood draw and started walking out and was very close to blacking out. I was disoriented and the room started closing in on me. Here's how I deal with it now:
- Avoid looking at the needle
- I always tell the technician/nurse that I have a hard time with blood draws and the like
- Take deep breaths before, during, and after
- I always sit or lie down for several minutes after so I don't pass out.
Good luck to your daughter, I'm sure she can overcome the battle if she doesn't psyche herself out. ASP