Pain Management During Immunizations for Adults

Immunizations are a routine part of medical care from childhood to adulthood. The pain caused by vaccinations can be upsetting, causing unnecessary stress and anxiety for some adults, who may then delay or avoid vaccinations, leaving them without protection from serious disease.

Below are some tips you can use to help reduce the stress, anxiety and pain when it comes to immunizations.

What you can do:

Body position

  • Pick the most comfortable position for you. For example, you can sit upright or lie down, whatever is the most relaxing for you.
  • Relax your arm. It may help to dangle your arm and then reposition it to ensure that your arm and muscles are completely relaxed.


What you can use:

Topical anaesthetic

  • In Canada, you can buy topical anaesthetics to reduce the pain from vaccination without a prescription: EMLATM (lidocaine-prilocaine), AmetopTM (tetracaine), or MaxileneTM (lidocaine).
  • Apply to your upper arm before immunization.
  • These products take 30-60 minutes to numb the skin. Your skin may temporarily appear whiter or redder than normal.
  • Ask your health care provider about correct placement of the product.


How you can act:

Stay calm

  • Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself.
  • Breathe so your belly expands, not your chest. Breaths should be deep and then slowly exhaled.


Distract yourself

  • Take your attention away from the pain.
  • Use conversation, music, video, reading, pictures, or smartphones, and/or simply look away.



Last Updated: 15 April 2019