By AZARIA HOWELL

I’m absolutely terrified of needles. No, seriously. I know it makes no sense. Vaccines, blood tests, IV lines – I just can’t do it without looking away in fear, averting my eyes from what my brain assumes is impending doom. Just thinking about it makes me shake with unfathomable anxiety and, to this day, needles remain an irrational phobia of mine.

Regardless of my anxiety, I got vaccinated against COVID-19 today.

I found it hard to sleep last night due to my fear, tossing and turning, my mind racing with fear. At the end of the day, I knew I could bring myself to do it. It was a way to help my community – to help Aotearoa, the place I call home. I was going to get vaccinated and nothing, not even my chronic anxiety, could stop me.

My hands trembled as I fumbled with my mask and headed to the pharmacy on Willis Street, no amount of ABBA Gold played on blast through my headphones managed to calm me down. I called my Mum right before, nearly in tears. I had become the textbook definition of anxiety.

When I arrived, I explained my worries to my vaccinator. He told me it was quick and relatively painless, and that I could look away. “No one really likes needles,” he explained. I left with reassurance and answers to all of the questions I had.

So I took a deep breath, and I looked away. Just like that, it was already done. 

Just as I was assured, it was quick and painless, over in mere milliseconds. I could write a whole list of things that were more painful than the vaccine, but I’d likely be here all day. Trust me, it was okay. 

Walking home with my vaccine card in my hands, the shaking had eased; I beamed with pride walking back to my flat, as I knew I had overcome a tremendous fear of mine for the betterment of my community.

And you can, too.

If you’re like me, someone who cries during every blood test (I fainted after the last one I had) don’t be scared of the COVID-19 vaccine. I can safely say, without a doubt, that my experience of the vaccine was completely pain-free.

If you are worried, vaccination and medical staff are there to support you and answer any questions you may have. They are trained to support everyone, including those who are, quite frankly, not the best with needles.

Having a fear of needles isn’t something to be ashamed of, but don’t let it get in the way of stopping the spread of the virus. Take it from me. 

Signed, forever scared of needles but glad I got vaccinated.

Everyone in New Zealand can be vaccinated against Covid-19 for free. Book yours at bookmyvaccine.nz

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