'I was dreading it' - young people share tales of overcoming jab anxiety
- Credit: Danielle Booden
Young people in Norfolk and Waveney have bravely shared their tales of overcoming Covid vaccination anxiety - and urged others to come forward for life-saving jabs.
It comes after health bosses revealed a fifth of patients being admitted to hospital in England with coronavirus are aged between 18 and 34.
The vast majority are unvaccinated or have had only one dose.
Vaccines are proven to decrease the risk of serious illness from the virus, but there have been concerns younger groups might turn down shots as they are unsure or feel less at risk.
Among those who had been suffering from severe anxiety over the prospect of going for a jab was Charlotte, who lives in Lowestoft.
For the 21-year-old, who has long had a needle phobia, the thought of getting an injection was almost unbearable.
"They started giving the vaccines and then my grandparents and family were having them," said Charlotte.
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"But I was absolutely dreading the text message to say it was my turn.
"Ever since getting my jabs at high school I have just hated it. It is more to do with the long anxious wait for it to happen."
Charlotte, though, was determined to play her part in getting the country back on its feet.
As her friends began being invited to appointments, she spoke at length with them about her concerns and they offered insight into the vaccination process.
Then Charlotte read about Emma, from a village near Great Yarmouth, who had publicly revealed her own experience of vaccine anxiety.
“I've not really been out of my village for months and not been around many people either, which doesn't help," said Emma, 36.
"The thought of being in crowded places is frightening to me sometimes. I know it sounds silly to some people, but the anxiety makes me feel so awful.
"It’s just the thought of doing things and the anticipation of it. I get so worked up I make myself ill with stress and worry."
The key for Emma was to seek help from the Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which has been leading the local rollout.
They organised a phone call with her closest vaccination site and arranged for someone to support her throughout the entire visit.
After finally taking the plunge, Emma admitted she was "so proud" of herself.
"It may sound daft to some people, but this was a massive thing for me," she added.
"If you suffer from anxiety, agoraphobia or hate the thought of needles - but still want a vaccine - then please let someone know.
"Whatever you need to get a vaccine, they can make it work for you."
Reading about Emma was the trigger Charlotte needed to bite the bullet.
Last month she attended a walk-in clinic at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston and gladly accepted her first jab after being met by a nurse at the door.
"Seeing Emma's story made me realise I am not alone and that anxiety is a huge thing," said Charlotte.
"I could relate to somebody who was in the same boat and I thought 'this is my time'.
"Anyone who felt the same as we did should speak up. Talk to the NHS because they are really fantastic and used to dealing with all sorts of situations.
"I didn't feel any anxieties at all after getting the vaccine. Getting your jab is never going to be a bad thing compared to catching Covid."
As Charlotte and Emma share their journeys, the CCG is launching a 'Worry Bus' for people who need time and space to discuss their personal circumstances in a non-judgemental environment.
At various locations, medical experts will be on hand to answer questions surrounding vaccination and address any concerns patients may have.
Pfizer jabs may be offered where appropriate, but there is no pressure to accept.
The Worry Bus will make its first stop on Saturday (August 7) at the UEA Sportspark, from 11am to 5pm.
It will return to the same venue again on Sunday, August 15.