Taipei, A fear of needles is believed to be the reason 12 students at a vocational high school in Changhua County fell ill shortly after receiving an influenza vaccine last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Wednesday.
Twelve students at Da Der Commercial and Technical Vocational High School in Changhua became ill after receiving a government- funded flu vaccine on Nov. 19.
The students were examined at a local hospital and four held for further observation after developing a fever and hand tremors, according to Changhua County Public Health Bureau.
According to doctors from the CDC who examined the students, needle phobia can induce extreme anxiety resulting in dizziness and was likely the cause of their reactions, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said, adding that such symptoms are unrelated to vaccine safety.
Fear of needles is common in adolescents but does not adversely impact health, according to Chuang.
Changhua County government reported the side effects after the flu vaccination, known as vaccine adverse events, to the central health authorities and applied for compensation for the students suffering side effects.
Commenting on the case, Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎), a vaccine expert at Taiwan Immunization Vision and Strategy, said generally potential side effects from vaccinations occur within 7 days to 6 weeks after receiving a shot and the sudden onset of fever, cough or a runny nose is not usually associated with vaccination.
Judging by the fact that several students experienced hand tremors simultaneously following the vaccination, Lee attributed the symptoms to needle phobia and said the fear can be passed from person to person.
Lee suggested that a public health campaign be launched on school campuses during immunization sessions to help eliminate needle phobia.