Does size matter for vaccine needles?

Posted at 6:34 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 20:55:43-04

CINCINNATI — Concern about side effects is the number one reason people are avoiding the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a U.S. Census Bureau study. But as viewer Perry Rothenbaum expressed to WCPO, pain during the injection is another reason some are holding off on getting vaccinated.

Vaccine distributors may use a standard or slighter larger needle during the injection process. Rothenbaum is worried about feeling the size difference.

"There's the perception that the larger syringe is injected for longer, thus the pain level is higher,” Rothenbaum said. "One person told me it's like they were digging for gold.”

Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, a UC College of Medicine professor of infectious diseases and a top COVID-19 vaccine researcher, said you might not be able to feel the difference in needle size at all.

"Where it goes into the muscle is probably not going to make a big difference,” Fichtenbaum said. “And the size or hole or how big the needle is is probably not going to make a big difference into whether or not you get more side effects or not."

Fichtenbaum said the common injection soreness is less about the size of the needle and more about where the injection is placed on the arm.

"I think, just making sure it's really in the good belly part of the muscle really helps, because then there's a little bit more protection,” Fichtenbaum said. “But you're going to feel some pain there because that's where we're injecting it. That's where the action is. That's where the immune system is responding to. So, that's to be expected that it will be uncomfortable for a few days."

The U.S. census survey found almost 17% of Ohioans over 18 were hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine. The top three reasons given involve trust, concern and safety.