Technology cuts tears during vaccinations

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
Justin Sheppard coaxes his daughter Evelyn, 3, into trying the VR headset with the help of nurse Amy Smith.
Camera IconJustin Sheppard coaxes his daughter Evelyn, 3, into trying the VR headset with the help of nurse Amy Smith. Credit: Callum Hunter

South West parents will no longer need despair at the idea of taking their children for needles.

The Health Hub in Eaton has introduced its virtual reality vaccinations, an initiative designed to relax and distract children and teenagers during needles.

Craig Hookham and his team came across the idea on social media and decided almost immediately to implement it at the practice.

“It’s all about keeping the experiences calm and as positive as it can be in a medical situation for kids,” he said.

Aimed primarily at children aged four and above, the patient puts on a VR headset and interacts with a fictional character who talks them through the process of getting a needle, all while medical staff administer the needle.

“We have had some really good experiences already where the kids don’t even notice they’ve had a needle at all,” Dr Hookham said.

“Often with children at this age, they scream, they kick, they fight before you’ve even gone near them with the needle.”

Australind father Justin Shepherd was amazed with the results when he took his daughter Evelyn, 3, for a routine vaccination and said he would be bringing her back there for future needles.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said. Anybody with young kids will know how hard it is when they first see the needle.

“She would’ve been screaming her head off otherwise.”

While Evelyn did shed a few tears in pain after the needle, it was only a matter of a few minutes before she was back smiling and walking out of the consulting room.

Not just a hit with children, Dr Hookham said the program had already been successful with teenagers and even adults since it was put into practice late last month.

“They play a game while they’re doing it,” he said.

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