Health Minister promotes VR for the vaccine-anxious — Analysis

Virtual reality headsets are being used by health authorities in the Netherlands to soothe nervous patients who need vaccinations.

Hugo de Jonge, Dutch Health Minister is encouraging people with needle-phobia to use virtual reality as a distraction. While workers are administering the shot, soothing scenes of nature can be viewed through VR headsets.

“Do you suffer from injection anxiety, but still want the (booster) injection?”On Monday, de Jonge tweeted. “The [Municipal Health Service]They are always happy to help. For example, there are more and more locations where they work with VR glasses that make it easier to relax during the injection.”

Dutch hospitals were the first to use VR technology. One Rotterdam example shows that patients are able to swim with dolphins and walk with elephants in a short procedure. 

“They are so busy with the virtual experience around them that they even forget they’re being vaccinated,”Robbert Brouwer is co-founder and CEO of medical virtual company SyncVR Medical. 

Others have tried lower-tech ways to calm anxiety about the jab. In the town of Veghel, nervous patients can receive their shot in a private room with a  comfortable couch, fake window, and fishing on a TV screen. 

According to government figures, over 85% of Dutch adults have been fully vaccinated. Only 16% of them received an additional dose. The high rate of Covid-19 cases has led to a dramatic increase in their numbers, rising from 1,600 per person per day at October’s beginning to 21,000 at December’s start. As of Monday, they were just below 12,000; still higher than in any other month.

Even with the alarming rise in the number of cases, the death rate from the virus is still below its April 2020 peak which had 232 deaths in just one day. There were twelve deaths reported Monday. The average death rate for the preceding week was 35.

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