Linda Franck's Commentary on Reducing Immunization Distress

It is common to make light of people’s fear of needles, but from a public health perspective, needle phobia is no laughing matter. Present in at least 10 percent to 15 percent of the general population, needle phobia can undermine immunization efforts, which provide the most effective individual and large-group protection against devastating infectious diseases. Moreover, fear of needles also brings emotional pain and practical problems. People who fear injections and blood draws not only avoid immunizations, but also may experience extreme difficulty dealing with dental work, medical care, job applications and a host of other situations in which needle penetration is more