VR glasses help Rotterdam residents overcome the fear of needles

Health careNewsSocial issues

The Dutch city of Rotterdam, led by mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, has come up with an innovative idea to motivate its residents to Covid-19 vaccine. Special virtual reality glasses are offered to Rotterdamers suffering from fears of needles during the vaccination appointment. 

The VR glasses are meant to put people’s minds at ease while they are being administered the jab by showing them soothing 3D videos and images. They are developed by SyncVR Medical, a Dutch platform specialized in implementing virtual reality in healthcare. The company stated the glasses were successfully used before for different purposes – from pain anxiety and stress reduction to rehabilitation and training of staff. 

“What we actually do is that we take people into a virtual world, in which they are distracted, for example, by swimming with dolphins or walking among elephants. They are so preoccupied with the virtual experience around them that they forget they are getting vaccinated”, said SyncVR Medical representative Robbert Brouwer

The initiative was launched in collaboration with Erasmus University Medical Center (EMC). For the time being, VR glasses are only available at the special pop-up vaccination location at EMC. If the trial project turns successful, the concept may soon spread to other locations around Rotterdam and the Netherlands. 

According to regional manager of Rotterdam’s Municipal Health Service Mario Papilaja, one of the reasons people may be reluctant to receive the Covid-19 is trypophobia – fear of needles. “We want to use these glasses to see whether we can remove the root of needle fear in people. In this case it really is a trial, to see the effect on people,” said Papilaja. 

This is not the first time Rotterdam’s Municipal Health Service has taken steps to help people overcome the fear of getting a Covid-19 jab. Previously, a special vaccination day was launched for people who feel anxious to receive the vaccine. Every Thursday, jabs are administered by experienced nurses who dedicate time to each person and help them cope with vaccination anxiety.


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