For many adults, anxiety can be a barrier to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Anxiety is a real challenge, and while we cannot provide personal medical advice, here are some tips that may help you if your anxiety is making it difficult to get vaccinated.
These are general tips, so while they can help it is always best to see a professional and get personal advice. However, we also recognize that this is not something everyone has access to. These are tips that have helped many people, specifically when it comes to vaccine anxiety. There are also more tips around needle anxiety on another page.
Here are some ideas to help address general anxiety around vaccines:
1 - Pay attention to what you feel - get curious about your thoughts and worries without judging them. Ask yourself why you feel a certain way, and be kind to yourself.
You can do this through free-writing (start writing any thought that comes to your mind!) or talking about this/exploring this with friends
Be aware of any internal dialogue around shame
Hold space for your own grief and frustration
2 - Pay attention to what you want. Do you wish to have freedom to travel? Do you wish you could protect your community? Do you want to connect with your community- or faith-based organization?
3 - Decrease news consumption - take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to stay informed, but pay attention to how it makes you feel too. If you feel overwhelmed, then it’s ok to take a break!
4 - Focus on the fact that the vaccine is meaningful, interesting and a modern marvel. It is the best way to get back to our lives, including all the things you want.
Needle anxiety, and anxiety in general, affects everyone differently, so different strategies will work better for different people. If you start to feel that a strategy or thought is helping you, remember what it is and think about how you can use that strategy again with other stressors.
If you can’t tell what you’re anxious about, or you’re still worried, this is also normal!
The pandemic has created a lot of stress in all of us. This can create anxiety that is hard to identify. Often, free-floating anxiety like this may attach or link to an idea. If you are unsure of the cause of your anxiety around vaccines, consider the possibility that this has happened.
Sue was going through a hard time because of the pandemic. There were many stressors and events happening outside of Sue’s control and she found herself feeling anxious all of the time. One day she came across online comments about vaccines. Although Sue considers herself scientific, and has nothing against vaccines, she was overwhelmed by a sense of unease and uncertainty. She knew she couldn’t understand all the science behind vaccines, and she felt anxious. She became fixated on the vaccine, thinking about it to the point of needing professional help. The counselor helped her see that she was going through a severely stressful time, and that the vaccine had become the magnet that grounded her general anxiety in something specific, tangible and therefore that made sense.