Grade 7 student helps friends overcome fear of needles
Nuha Patel didn’t intend to become a moral support for her needle-averse friends, but who better to reassure them about getting their COVID-19 vaccinations than someone who has faced that fear head on?
“It was completely accidental,” said the 12-year-old from Saskatoon. “I was telling a friend that I had been really nervous to get my vaccine and telling that whole dramatic tale – just like a joke.”
Turns out, her friend had an appointment to get vaccinated and she was scared.
“I remember telling her that, ‘It’s okay. It will be fine. It will hurt but, when you look back at it, it’s something you have to do because you have to make sure everyone around you is safe.’”
Since that time, Patel has helped calm the frayed nerves of at least a half dozen friends and classmates.
“I think they were mostly worried about the what-ifs. What if it really hurts? What if something happens? I told them they should focus on the pros instead of the cons,” she said.
Patel, who is the oldest in her friend group, had already talked herself through these same concerns. She was immunized on the first day the vaccine was available to her age group.
“I love school, I love seeing all my friends, and I really, really wanted to get my vaccine and get it over with. I wanted it so I could feel more protected and, if other people got it, then schools would not shut down,” she said.
That doesn’t mean getting vaccinated was easy.
“I remember thinking to myself if I close my eyes and talk I won’t feel anything but I was so focused on not feeling anything that I felt everything,” she said. “It hurt a little but as I was getting it I remember thinking of all the things I could do now.”
Patel said she has been anxious about getting needles as long as she can remember.
"I am terribly afraid of getting needles. I think that they are one of the scariest things ever. I’m not a big fan of needles.”
She said several of her friends feel the same way so she had little difficulty putting herself in their shoes to help defuse their concerns.
For the most part, she said, her friends have appreciated her advice.
“Of course, I couldn’t stop it (the needle) from hurting but I could help them calm down and to take a deep breath about the situation. I think I did remind them that it’s important that you do this one thing so that so many other things don’t happen to the people you love.”
Patel said while it makes her feel good to help others, ultimately, she feels getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a responsibility.
“It made me think that if we all do a little part in ending COVID, then the world would be much better off. Getting vaccinated is something we should all at least consider because we don’t want this to happen again.”