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How to Get the Correct Size Needle for Vaccines As A Higher-Weight Person
There are plans to roll out an updated version of the COVID-19 Vaccine, plus flu shot season is right around the corner in the US. Earlier this year, I wrote about the fact that higher-weight people can require longer needles for the safest and most effective vaccinations, not just for COVID-19, but for intramuscular vaccines in general, in this case those delivered to the deltoid (upper arm.) You can read about that here.
Unfortunately, even when we know the needle length we need, actually getting access to it can still be a struggle. Typically we have to call ahead to make sure the place where we are getting vaccinated even carries the longer needle. Even when they do have the needles, sometimes the providers who are performing the vaccinations can be unaware of the evidence for using longer needles, can think that we are confused between gauge (the size of the hole in the needle) vs length (how long the needle is,) and/or simply be uncomfortable using longer needles.
All of this puts our health and even lives in jeopardy. My fabulous fiancée Julianne suggested that I create cards (kind of like my What to Say at the Doctor’s Office cards) that people could print to ask for longer needles. So I did! You’ll find them below as well as a quick script to use when calling ahead.
There are two versions. One is in color (a blue background) and the other is black and white, depending on your printing preferences. They are both business card sized so they can fit in your wallet. The graphics below are just to show, in order to print you’ll want to use the links below the graphics.
Links for printing:
(options for both black and white and full color, and to print either a single card, or a full sheet of 12, created for 8.5 x 11 paper)
Black and White 1 per sheet
Black and White 12 per sheet
Full Color 1 per sheet
Full Color 12 per sheet
Call Ahead Script
If you are calling ahead to make sure your vaccination location has longer needles (which I recommend doing) here’s a quick script you can use.
Hi, I’m coming to [your location] to get [specific] vaccine. I’m a higher-weight person and so the CDC guidelines say that I should have a needle that is 1.5 inches (38mm) long. I just wanted to make sure that you have those needles available for my vaccine.
Finally, as a reminder, you can check out this previous post for a more detailed explanation!
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For a full bank of research, check out https://haeshealthsheets.com/resources/
*Note on language: I use “fat” as a neutral descriptor as used by the fat activist community, I use “ob*se” and “overw*ight” to acknowledge that these are terms that were created to medicalize and pathologize fat bodies, with roots in racism and specifically anti-Blackness. Please read Sabrina Strings: Fearing the Black Body – the Racial Origins of Fat Phobia and Da’Shaun Harrisons Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness for more on this.