There is a reason why I say "needle and medical anxiety" instead of "needle phobia."

"Needle phobia" makes people think it's just about fear of pain from a needle.

But for many adults with this, it's about a whole lot more than pain & reducing it to that is, frankly, ableist.
If you're doing a story on needle phobia and/or actually want to help adults with needle & medical anxiety get vaccinated, I urge you to dig deeper than taglines related to pain.
For some (not me), it may have started with a painful experience.

But either way many of us with needle and/or medical anxiety have been dismissed & poorly treated in healthcare settings so the anxiety of clinical settings has become more generalized beyond the actual injection.
If you really want to help people with needle-related phobias and anxieties, talk about accessibility.

What types of accommodations are available? How can we arrange them in advance? Can we bring a friend? Do staff know how to use a Buzzy or Shotblocker or clean off EMLA cream?
But in the long run, I'm gonna need to see a lot more empathy and disability justice coming from the medical community because the ableism has been PALPABLE with the vaccine rollout in Canada & the US.

Not everyone can access therapy or self-advocate for accessibility.
Speaking of therapy.... exposure therapy can help needle anxiety, yes...

But also if things were more accessible and we had more compassionate healthcare options, there would be a lot fewer triggers we'd have to learn how to expose ourselves to.
And I know everyone loves CBT (and I successfully did CBT in the past after every neuro textbook I read sang its praises)..

But if you're struggling with needle anxiety, please look into EMDR, what my awesome therapist calls CBT's less ableist cousin.
PS. for my fellow medically anxious friends, I was lucky to be able to get both my doses & have also found an awesome therapist + GP who understand anxiety.

I know how hard it is to access compassionate healthcare but lots of excellent providers exist. Here to chat if you need💗
Some starting points for improving COVID vaccine accessibility:

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More from @heysciencesam

10 May
I know there are a lot of people who recently got the AstraZeneca vaccine who feel ... snubbed ... after last week's communications.

This thread is for you. I hope it re-affirms your smart decision to get protected from COVID asap & empowers you to know the signs of VITT.
Vaccines prevent disease. So any potential risk from a vaccine must ALWAYS be discussed in the context of risks from the disease it prevents.

Risks from an infectious disease like COVID vary w/ time, age, location, & personal risk profile.

That's why it changes & is confusing.
For places in Canada in the midst of a third wave, especially for those who don't work from home, the up to 94% protection against hospitalization from COVID that one dose of AstraZeneca offers was (and is) valuable.

Read 21 tweets
10 May
If you got the AstraZeneca vaccine, you did NOT make a bad decision.
Please read the article. It talks about how going forward, supply of mRNA vaccine is increasing so much in Canada that it will be easier to opt for them if you’re more comfortable with the lower risk profile.
And for those who got the AstraZeneca and are worried about dose 2: we’ll have data soon from studies in mixing first and second doses with different brands. It is likely that you’ll have options for dose 2, so don’t worry 💗
Read 4 tweets
7 May
Wow this made me feel so seen.

Despite the fact that I’ve been talking about vaccines non-stop all year, I have a real fear of the needle (not the vaccine!) itself.

Grateful for my therapist (who practises from a disability justice framework 🙏🏼)…
I’m gonna try to document my experience getting vaccinated in hopes of helping others. Also working on a guide. Buuuut also prioritizing my mental health on this one 😬😬
Collecting info on how we can ask for accommodations here:
Read 4 tweets
7 May
Question for those vaccinating in Ontario (especially Toronto) or disabled folks:

What’s the most seamless way for those of us with disabilities and/or needle phobia to ask for the accommodations we need when booking our appointments or arriving at the vax site?
I saw this form from Surrey Place (…) and while it says it’s specific for those with developmental disabilities, I’d find it helpful to fill out something similar since it’s stressful for me to communicate my needs in the moment.
I’m not yet eligible to book (I don’t live in a hot spot), but I’ve been finding it hard to access resources on accommodations available at certain sites.

I’m stoked to be vaccinated, but I know I’m not alone in needing more info on accessibility of the process.
Read 5 tweets
24 Apr
Let's take a look at the updated NACI recommendations for the AstraZeneca vaccine...

Thread based on Appendix E, analyzing benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine (preventing ICU admissions & deaths from COVID) vs risks of waiting for a later mRNA vaccine:… Screenshot of first page of the updated NACI recommendations
QUICK SUMMARY: if you're in AB or ON, or anywhere with high COVD cases, the protections the AstraZeneca vaccine offer outweigh the rare but real risks -- at any age.

Also seems true for 30+ in areas with medium COVID levels.

Note current supply & provincial eligibility criteria
IMPORTANT: I'm trained as a scientist, but in neuroscience/molecular genetics -- fields completely unrelated to this topic.

Only expertise I bring to this, besides a love of data, is based on my work as a science communicator, particularly one specialized in vaccine confidence
Read 26 tweets
16 Apr
I asked people on Instagram what may be making them or their loved ones feel unsure about booking an appointment for an #AstraZeneca vaccine.

🧵 Thread with my 15-second answers to the 9 most frequent questions they asked.

#VaccinesWork #Canada #Ontario
Q: How effective is [the AstraZeneca vaccine] compared to other vaccines?

A: When it comes to just one dose, which is all most people in Canada are gonna have for the next few months, the mRNA vaccines have similar effectiveness to the AstraZeneca.

Q: My mom is hesitant b/c she has seen the [AstraZeneca] efficacy is lower than Pfizer?

A: Study out of Scotland (…) looked at effectiveness of reducing hospitalizations 1 month after just 1 dose:

Pfizer: 85% ⬇️🏥
AstraZeneca: 94% ⬇️🏥

Both #VaccinesWork.
Read 13 tweets

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