Many people may find the experience of having a needle an unpleasant one. However for some people, the experience is much more difficult, presenting as a real phobia characterised by both severe and persistent anxiety and fear. As a result, this patient group often avoid needle-related experiences. This needle avoidance extends to the area of immunisation, resulting in the individual being left susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases. This can result in further procedures involving needles should they become unwell.

Effective preparation, distraction techniques, pain management strategies and addressing the core reason for the phobia are all important steps in ensuring successful immunisation.

Below are some resources that can assist in the immunisation of needle phobic patients.

If immunisation attempts are unsuccessful you may consider referral to a specialist Immunisation clinic to discuss alternate options e.g. sedation.

Please contact SAEFVIC on 1300 882 924 (Option 1) for further discussion.


Authors: Georgie Lewis (Clinical Manager, SAEFVIC, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute) and Rachael McGuire (SAEFVIC Research Nurse, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

Date: February 2018

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.