FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, a nurse prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta. The flu forecast is cloudy and it’s too soon to know if the U.S. is in for a third miserable season in a row, but health officials said Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 not to delay vaccination. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

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This flu season, B.C. pharmacies will offer numbing cream to help ease needle phobia

Numbing cream has experts hoping it’s just the prescription needed to get more people vaccinated

It’s not uncommon for people’s trypanophobia, or fear of needles, to flare up during flu season and major pharmacies are hoping a new pain-free needle initiative will be just the cure to ensure Canadians get vaccinated.

London Drugs, Rexall and other pharmacies in B.C. will be teaming up with Alera Skin Care in the coming months to offer patients age two and older the option of being given numbing cream ahead of their flu shot free of charge, the companies announced in a news release Tuesday.

Zensa Numbing Cream, approved by Health Canada, desensitizes skin in as quick as ten minutes. Experts are hopeful that it will replace the recently discontinued nasal spray flu vaccine.

The goal of the initiative is to provide Canadians who may be fearful of the flu shot, especially children, with an option that may help quell their anxieties.

ALSO READ: This year’s flu vaccine is way more effective than last year

According to a recent Insights West poll, 36 per cent of British Columbians don’t plan to get a flu shot this year due to misconceptions about the benefits of the vaccine and concerns about its safety.

That’s despite influenza and pneumonia being among the top 10 leading causes of death in the country – killing 3,500 people and landing 1,200 more in the hospital each year.

“We want to make sure there are no hindrances to people getting protection from the flu virus and Zensa should help; especially when it comes to individuals who may be nervous about getting the shot,” London Drugs pharmacy manager Chris Chiew said.

ALSO READ: Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

In September, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control warned that the first delivery of vaccines was delayed this year, but pharmacies will back fill to have enough in October.

Pharmacists are also providing a number of tips for parents and caregivers to help rid the fear of needles among children:

  1. Talk to your child about the needle phobia. Find out where the fear is stemming from and talk through different options with them to ease the anxiety.
  2. Eliminate pain by using a numbing cream. Many children are most anxious about the pain that comes from the prick of the needle.
  3. Lead by example. Demonstrate that the experience doesn’t need to be a painful one, by modelling calmness through your own flu shot.
  4. Use positive reinforcement and avoid negative needle talk.

@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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