Managing coronavirus vaccine anxiety

Tuesday 09 February 2021

Over the last year, life, as we know it, has changed.

It’s a very unsettling time and for many of us, it feels like we're in limbo. It can even feel like coronavirus has taken over our lives.

In the last couple of months, the roll-out of the vaccine has given us all an injection of hope. But alongside this new hope, there are inevitably lots of questions, as well as anxieties, fears and worries.

It’s important to remember that these emotions are very normal during uncertain times.

There isn’t always an answer to all our questions but there are ways we can help ourselves to better cope with any anxiety we're experiencing.

Some of the questions we’ve been asked at Maggie’s...

  1. When will I get the vaccine?

The situation varies across the UK and different groups will receive the vaccine first.

You will be contacted when it's your turn.

For more details, check the Government and NHS information about vaccinations in your area:

Many people are still waiting to be offered the vaccine and this can bring further worry and anxiety.

2. Which vaccine will I get?

It isn’t possible to specify which vaccine you would prefer. It’s important to accept whichever vaccine you are offered.

3. Can I have the vaccine if I am in active treatment? Can we give an answer or some guidance?

The Government is currently giving vaccinations to people in order of the agreed national priority list.

If you're receiving active cancer treatment it is likely that you will be classified as extremely clinically vulnerable, which is fourth in the Government’s priority list.

It's possible that you may fall into more than one of the Governments priority groups. If this is the case, you will be vaccinated according to the highest priority group you fall into.

4. Do I still have to shield after I've had the vaccine?

Unfortunately, having your vaccine doesn’t change the Government's advice on shielding.

We understand that everyone is desperate to get back to normal, but even if you've had your vaccine you should continue to follow the Government's advice on shielding if you have been told that you fall within the category of extremely clinically vulnerable.

5. Do I have to wear a mask and socially distance after I have had the vaccine?

Again, even if you’ve had your vaccine the Government's advice is to continue following the latest social distancing guidance, including wearing a mask.

This is because even though we know the vaccination will protect you from COVID, we still don’t have enough evidence to show that the vaccine will stop you spreading the virus if you become infected even if you have been vaccinated.

When there are no clear answers

We understand it’s frustrating that not all these questions have clear answers and some answers will differ between people.

The best advice we can offer is to speak to your medical team or GP if you have questions that relate to your specific circumstance.

You can always give us a call or pop in to one of our centres if you are worried and would like to speak with a member of our team at Maggie’s.

Tips for managing vaccine anxiety

  • Acknowledge that there are some things that we cannot control

We can’t control which vaccine we may be offered, or exactly when we'll be invited to have the vaccine.

With so much uncertainty, you can get lost in what might or might not happen.

Instead, try and focus on what is within your control day-to-day. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings and remind yourself that it’s ok to feel this way.

  • Write a list of questions

You might find it helpful to jot down any questions you have so you can ask your medical team at your next appointment.

For example, you might want to ask them if it’s safe to have the vaccine whilst you’re on treatment; they’ll know best, as the answer will differ for everyone.

  • Take some time out each day

It’s really important to try and carve out even a short time for yourself in the day.

Try listening to some music, getting a bit of exercise, do some colouring, DIY or anything that may offer you some distraction and that you enjoy doing.

  • Focus on your surroundings

If you feel like your thoughts and worries are overwhelming you, you might find it useful to try and focus on your environment and be in the present.

Listen to the sound of the birds or watch the clouds moving across the sky.

Another way to ground yourself in the moment is to list five things you can see around the room, or focus on how your breath moves in and out of your body.

Sometimes engaging yourself physically can help; try pushing your feet firmly on the ground and be aware of the sensation that creates.

The important thing here is that these are all things you can control.

  • Find ways to be kind to yourself

During these times of worry try and identify each day what you can do to look after yourself.

It might be keeping active, trying a recipe, taking a long bath, or catching up online with a friend you haven’t spoken to recently.

  • Don’t overload on news

If you're feeling anxious about the vaccine and all the conversations and discussions which are going on around you, it may be helpful to limit how much exposure you allow yourself to news and the media.

The more exposure we have to these discussions, the more they can heighten our anxiety.

Get support at Maggie's

We're here in our centres, on the phone and by email if you have questions or want to talk things through.

Find your nearest Maggie's to get details of how to get in touch.

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