There are obviously many individuals who do not like to get shots due to a needle phobia, but few consider those plagued with a fear of giving shots.
Surprisingly, there are many pharmacists who suffer from trypanophobia, or fear of injections.
Pharmacist injection certification is a relatively new practice. Over the past 15 years, the number of states that allow pharmacists to give immunizations has tripled, and currently all 50 states allow the practice1. However, upon starting their career, many pharmacists did not anticipate being required to administer vaccines as part of their job.
The idea of giving injections is very stressful to many pharmacists. Not only do they have to handle needles, but they also run the risk of being accidentally stuck with the used needle and could be liable if the vaccine is improperly administered or the patient experiences unexpected side effects.
Other pharmacists simply do not like the idea of causing pain or high anxiety to a patient. Having to give an injection to a needle-phobic patient who may hyperventilate to the point of passing out is certainly not something that many pharmacists signed up for. 2
Furthermore, pharmacists are often expected to pay for their immunization certification out of their own pockets. These fees can be as much as $350, and having completed the certification does not entitle a pharmacist to a higher salary.
While pharmacists are not required to get their immunization certification, those who have declined for personal reasons or needle phobia are not able to be as competitive in the job market. According to pharmacist online forums, some trypanophobic pharmacists have even stated that they feel as though they are being forced out of their current positions due to their inability or unwillingness to become certified.
Unfortunately, those pharmacists who feel as though they are being discriminated against in the workplace due to their phobia can do little about it. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), needle phobia is only considered a viable disability if it “substantially limits one or more major life activities”.3 The ADA defines major life activities as follows:
“Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working … A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.”
Even if one’s phobia is so severe that it impedes one of these activities, in compliance with the ADA, if being able to provide immunizations is a required element of the job of being a pharmacist, the employer is justified in removing a person from a position if one cannot fulfill all his or her duties.3
Sadly, all of these obstacles are deterring potential pharmacists from pursuing this career path.
Thankfully, needle-free alternatives are becoming more and more readily available at pharmacies. Offering an option like the PharmaJet Needle-Free Injector enables employers to accommodate not only their needle phobic pharmacists, but also potential customers.
- Neighmond, Patti. “Many pharmacists now administer vaccinations.” NPR.org. NPR, 18 Oct. 2007. Web.
- Nierenberg, Cari. “Afraid of Needles? Why Some Faint at the Very Sight.” NBCNews.com. NBC News, 23 May 2011. Web.
- United States. Americans with Disabilities Act. Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, As Amended. By Americans with Disabilities Act. ADA, n.d. Web.