Since COVID-19 vaccinations began in the U.S. on December 14, over 20 million shots have been administered. With the first round of shots largely going to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, the early weeks of the immunization rollout were sparked by excitement and disbelief that the vaccine had finally arrived. But now that many states are beginning to progress to the next groups on the priority list, including those over age 65 and frontline workers, the reality is beginning to set in. And for some people, that comes with a bit of anxiety.
Worries About the COVID Vaccine
If you feel some hesitation or trepidation over getting the vaccine, you’re not alone. Maybe you feel a little bit of fear around the speed at which the vaccine was developed and approved. Perhaps your anxiety stems from the anticipation of waiting for the vaccine, especially if your state’s vaccine program has experienced a lot of challenges in its first weeks. Maybe the constant news about the vaccine, including everything from updates about shortages or confusion over rollout logistics, is causing tension on a daily basis.
Whatever the case may be, your concerns are valid. If you do have anxiety about the COVID vaccine, we recommend taking a proactive approach to find relief. Try using the following tips for dealing with COVID vaccine worries.
Find Trusted Sources of Information
Worried about how safe the vaccine really is? That’s perfectly normal. Your health is nothing to take lightly, and many health care professionals have shared similar fears over getting the vaccine. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not safe or that you should avoid getting vaccinated.
For those who are experiencing increased anxiety about vaccine safety, it’s time to seek out reliable, trustworthy sources. Don’t let vaccine worries get the best of you. If you’re dwelling on the “what-ifs” of getting vaccinated, arm yourself with facts. The more you know, the more confident you can be about your decision. There are plenty of reputable sources to turn to for more information, including:
If you prefer to look to trusted individuals rather than organizations, consider:
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
- Dr. Vivek Murthy, former U.S. Surgeon General and current nominee for the same position
- Dr. Rochelle Walensky, an infectious disease expert who shares helpful vaccine information on Twitter
- Jessica Malaty Rivera, an epidemiologist and science communication strategist who directly answers questions about vaccine concerns on Instagram
Take Note of What You Find
When researching information about the vaccine, it might feel overwhelming at first. There is so much data out there, and sometimes, it can seem like there’s a lot of conflicting information to wade through.
One way to combat this feeling is to take note of the important, irrefutable facts you come across in your research. This allows you to distill all this information down to the key points that will directly help to relieve some of the anxiety you feel. Make an effort to write down the important facts you find about vaccine safety that pertain directly to your fears. Here are a few to get you started:
- The COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. do not contain the live virus and cannot make you sick with COVID-19. (CDC)
- Both of the initial vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are about 95% effective and reported NO serious or life-threatening side effects. (Johns Hopkins)
- There are some minor side effects that may occur, but they are not severe. In fact, these side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection. (CDC)
Take a Break
Even if you’re 100% sure you want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, you could still be experiencing some anxiety. The vaccine is often dominating the news, and the constant reminder of the pandemic may be upsetting. People who are eligible to be vaccinated now might be stressed about not being able to get an appointment yet. You might be anxious about the people in your life fighting over whether the vaccine is safe, or you’re simply stressed about how long it might be until it’s your turn to get the vaccine.
When the anxiety becomes too distressing or distracting, it’s time to take a step back. Limit the amount of news you watch. If a friend or family member wants to argue over whether the vaccine is safe, it’s okay to simply say, “I’m making the decision that’s right for my health and I don’t want to debate it.” Keep in mind that it will be your turn to get the vaccine eventually, even if it might take a while.
If you feel vaccine-related anxiety coming on, turn to something that helps you to feel calm and centered, such as writing in a bullet journal, doing yoga, going for a walk, or listening to music. Remember that taking care of your mental health is also important during this time when there is so much focus on physical health.
Get Help from Professionals
If the steps above don’t help to alleviate your anxiety, it’s time to ask for professional help. There is no shame in experiencing chronic anxiety. In fact, it’s much more common than you might think, with over 40 million adults in the U.S. affected by anxiety disorders each year.
There are a number of places you can turn to for help. You can talk to a therapist or ask your doctor about medications to relieve anxiety. These methods may take weeks or months to become effective, but fortunately, there are also options like Ketamine Infusion Therapy, which typically provides relief from anxiety within days or only a few weeks.
The emergence of effective COVID vaccines has caused many people to experience a rollercoaster of emotions. The pandemic has disrupted lives in such a significant and lasting way, and the vaccine presents a major turning point. This big change may take some time to process, so if you’re experiencing anxiety along the way, use the steps listed above to take care of your mental health.