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Fear of Needles: Consequences to Your Child’s Health


​​Bein​g afraid of getting a shot or a blood draw as a child doesn't seem like it would be a big deal. Every kid is afraid, right?

Well, yes and no. There's probably not a child alive who likes shots or blood draws. But that's not the same thing as fear of needles or medical anxiety. Children can fear needles for any number of reasons, including:

  • They have had a bad experience with a shot or blood draw.
  • They sense a parent's fear of shots and internalize that into their own fear.
  • They have been held down for vaccinations early in their life, which research has proven not only makes the experience more frightening but children also report higher incidences of pain.

Research has shown that many parents have not kept up with their children's immunizations because their child is afraid of them. Older children have also admitted that they are behind on vaccinations because they are engaging in avoidance behavior where shots are concerned.

In the short-term this leaves the individual child open to childhood diseases that can significantly impact their lives or, in instances like meningitis, can prove fatal. But falling behind, or deciding to skip vaccinations, also has ramifications for those who come in contact with that child. Children missing vaccinations can break what is known as herd immunity. This group immunity, where almost everyone has been vaccinated, protects those who can't get immunizations, like newborns and those with compromised immune systems.

It's important that parents recognize that being afraid of shots can actually have serious long-term consequences on a person's health, far beyond childhood and the yearly checkup.

Research has also shown that adults who suffered from severe needle anxiety as children are prone to putting off needed doctor visits, even when they suspect that something may be wrong. This can escalate healthcare concerns when chronic issues are not being monitored. In some cases, waiting too long for treatment can even leave some diseases incurable.

Boys Town recognizes the importance of both immunizations and helping children develop more positive coping skills in order to avoid developing a fear of needles. That's why we've developed the Boys Town CARES initiative for children.

Whenever you visit us and your child needs to have a shot, blood drawn or any other procedure that children find stressful, we are here to help you comfort your child.

How can we help? By providing you with resources to make your child's doctor's office visit as uneventful as possible. With our CARES options, we'll help you find the best ways to comfort and distract your child.

To read our next article in this series, click on Fear of Needles: Helping Children Cope​.​

Health;Immunizations Pediatrics