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Letter to the editor for Aug. 23, 2021
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Letter to the editor for Aug. 23, 2021

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Stop showing needles on TV

As a medical professional I would like to make the case that the continual broadcast news media’s displays of people receiving injections is doing a huge disservice toward getting the American public vaccinated against Covid-19 by promoting fear of needles.

The incidence of needle phobia has been estimated to be as high as 20-30% among US adults. The symptoms of needle phobia are unpleasant and include fainting, racing heartbeat, elevated blood pressure and panic attacks.

Unfortunately many of the televised injections seem to suggest the provider could benefit from a refresher course in proper injection technique! As a physician I often wince when I watch the injections.

A study published by the University of Michigan in 2018 estimated that 16% of adults avoid routine immunizations for fear of needles. Even among workers in a health care setting, as many as 27% in hospital and long-term care facilities avoid influenza vaccine for this reason. This could explain the resistance toward the new Centra Health policy for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for their staff. Even among physicians, many indicated they avoid tetanus, influenza and pneumonia vaccines for this reason.

I would urge the news media to consider eliminating the visual displays of people receiving injections in their arms. This can only foster more anxiety and fear among the public and lead to further reluctance in getting our citizens vaccinated against a true public health emergency.

EUGENE G. WOLANSKI, M.D.

Lynchburg

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