My fear of needles was what stopped me from getting the jab initially, but looking back, there was no need to be afraid at all.
I received my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Aug 21, and I guess I was pretty late to the vaccination game, considering that 78 per cent of Singapore’s population had already gotten both doses by then.
Admittedly, I was hesitant to get vaccinated, which was why I waited for more than a month to book an appointment after receiving the registration link from the Ministry of Health.
One reason for my hesitancy was that I am afraid of needles. The thought of getting pricked by a sharp needle was nerve-racking and the unpleasant memories of getting injections in primary school did nothing to ease my fears.
Hearing from my mother about her excruciatingly painful experience while getting her second jab – she says that it felt like someone punched her arm with knuckle brass – only added to my anxiety. While I wasn’t too worried about the other side effects such as soreness and fever, I was afraid of the pain.
That was why I took a month to register for my vaccine, so I could take the time to mentally prepare myself for that inevitable pain.
In hindsight, I really worried for nothing. Both shots were much less painful than I expected – it felt like mere ant bites. The healthcare workers at the vaccination centre were also very understanding and helped to calm me down. They struck up conversations with me to distract me from the jab itself.
If you are terrified of needles like me, here are some tips that might help: Avoid looking at the needle at all costs and instead focus your attention on something else to take your mind off the imminent jab. Telling yourself that the pain only lasts a few seconds and the shot will be over before you know it might also help.
While the vaccination process was surprisingly smooth and quick, the side effects that followed weren’t quite as pleasant. After my first jab, my arm was so sore I could barely lift it. Even though I felt lethargic during the day, I found it difficult to sleep at night due to the pain in my arm. Luckily, the side effects only lasted a day.
I was greeted by the same discomfort after my second dose, but this time with the addition of a slight fever which lasted for two days. Instead, what bothered me more was that I couldn’t fully enjoy the precious weekend, as I got the jab on Saturday. Compared to my mother, my side effects were much more manageable, thankfully.
A part of me wished I hadn’t hesitated to get vaccinated and did it much sooner, just so I could start enjoying the relaxed measures that kicked in on Aug 10. My fully-vaccinated friends made plans to dine out, but because I wasn’t, I couldn’t join them. That was tough to take, especially since I haven’t seen them for months.
Viewing their Instagram stories and photos they shared, I couldn’t help but regret my choice of waiting to get vaccinated. Sure, I could have taken a pre-event test, but heading out while not fully vaccinated felt like too much of a risk.
I wasn’t even able to dine out with my fully-vaccinated parents as well, even at hawkers centers or coffee shops where only groups of two are allowed regardless of vaccination status.
It’s a relief now, since I’m fully vaccinated, although I still take the necessary precautions while I’m out. Being able to dine in at Genki Sushi for my favourite mentaiko sushi, after weeks of ordering via food delivery or takeaway, felt as though the shackles have been released.
If you’re still unsure about getting the vaccine, you might want to do your own research to help you make a firm decision. And if the only thing stopping you from getting vaccinated is your fear of needles, don’t let it prevent you from getting a jab that could potentially save your life.
For those who aren’t vaccinated yet, you can book your appointment here.
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