Trypanophobia is an irrational fear of needles. I have this, but I have no idea why. My mom swears I had no weird traumatic incident during my childhood that could cause this. All I know is that if I see a needle stick on TV I get woozy, and a medically necessary blood draw can induce a black out.
So you can imagine that I was one of those people that never got the annual flu vaccination because getting the seasonal flu seemed like a reasonable consequence of avoiding a needle stick in the arm. Trust me, it’s reasonable to a Trypanophobic! Well, that is to say, I never got the flu shot until fall 2020 because even though I consider myself healthy, it just seemed like the right thing to do during a global upheaval.
Then in early April 2021, I was given the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the caveat being I had to show up within the hour of receiving the call. Once again, my fear of needles rose to the surface, but I said I’d be there. I made an in-the-moment decision to proceed even though I had been a little on the fence about it. While I completely tune out news feeds and only rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Fresno County Department of Public Health for trusted information, I was still hesitant.
In retrospect, I think my hesitancy was 60% fear of needles and 40% resistance to someone else telling me what was best for me. Yes, I’m one of those people who thinks my own rationale is superior to someone else’s data. I recently discovered that seat belt laws took nearly 20 years to get passed, despite countless studies that demonstrated the effectiveness of seat belts in saving lives. I do wear my seatbelt, but there’s a small part of me that wants to resist compliance with the law when I’m driving three blocks at 20 mph max to the donut shop on a Saturday morning. In those moments, I want to make my own decision about taking my life into my own hands because I think the odds are ever in my favor. In the end, the incessant beeping of my car forces me to begrudgingly reach over and buckle in, no matter how short or slow the drive.
Where is the tipping point between the exercise of personal freedom and compliance with expert recommendations, especially when we don’t have 20 years to build a mountain of evidence? In our world today, wearing a seatbelt is the law and getting the COVID-19 vaccine is not. You can get a ticket for not wearing your seatbelt. It’s a known fact that you can fly through the windshield in a high speed accident. So you technically do have a choice and can suffer the consequences. In the end, wearing your seatbelt is a choice. As is getting vaccinated. Ask yourself, “What are the downsides or consequences or odds?” Just like dying on a freeway, the odds may be slim, but they exist, so you do have a choice.
I value my right to choose. So, I choose to wear my seatbelt. I chose to get vaccinated when the opportunity presented itself. We all have our own values and rationale. In reality, we all have a choice. In the end, I am not going to be in the percentage of people who stand in the way of our county’s reopening to 100%, so I put my own rationale and feelings aside and took a needle in the arm (twice!). For so many reasons, I didn’t like it one bit, but it’s over with and I now carry my vax card with me everywhere I go. Just in case.
Editor’s note: Still have questions? For COVID-19 vaccination facts, go to www.ourbestshot.org.
— Jane Olvera, Founder and President of JP Marketing