Therapy Dogs Will Help Those With Needle Anxiety At COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic

By Darby Jones September 13, 2021
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Nova Scotia will use therapy dogs to help create a calming and supportive environment for people who have needle anxiety.

A COVID-19 vaccination site at the Dalhousie University’s family medicine clinic at the Spryfield Wellness Center in Spryfield, Nova Scotia is using therapy dogs to help calm those with anxiety about receiving the vaccine.

The idea to use the dogs to calm the nerves of those coming in to get their vaccine came from a young man with down syndrome that has a fear of needles, according to Dr. Karen McNeil, a family doctor who works at the clinic.

“We should acknowledge that there is not only this gentleman, there’s lots of people out there who have anxiety around vaccines,” said Dr. McNeil.

The drop-in clinic is available for those 12 and over that are looking to receive their first or second dose of the Pfizer shot.

McNeil explained that the site previously held clinics for Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, and appointments were scheduled about five to six minutes apart. For the Pfizer clinic, appointments are 15 minutes apart.

To help people feel more comfortable, therapy dogs and handlers from St. John Ambulance will be present at the clinic. Dr. McNeil said that the clinic is meant for those with needle anxiety rather than needle phobia, a much more severe fear of needles. She also said that approximately 10 percent of the population has anxiety around getting vaccinated, so they hope that the therapy dogs will help calm some of those fears.

Image source: CBC Canada