Managing anxiety about having the COVID-19 vaccine

Australia’s nationwide rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is well underway. If the prospect of having the vaccine is making you feel anxious, here are some ways to manage that worry.

Australia is currently in the process of rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccination will protect people on the frontline and those who are most vulnerable. It will also support our collective mental health and wellbeing by bringing us together safely, allowing businesses to reopen and reducing some of the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic.

What can you do if you’re feeling worried about having the COVID-19 vaccine?

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows some hesitancy within the community about having the vaccine.

The main reasons people may not get a COVID-19 vaccination were concerns relating to potential side-effects (52%) and effectiveness of the vaccine (15%).

Fortunately, we are in the position whereby scientists and regulators across the globe have endorsed COVID-19 vaccines as both safe and effective.

People with specific health issues who have any concerns or questions relating to the vaccine are advised to see their GP.

Those who are hesitant about the prospect of receiving the vaccine may be experiencing feelings of anxiety. You may be concerned about whether the vaccine is safe and effective, how to go about accessing it, and whether there will be enough for everyone.

According to Beyond Blue’s lead clinical advisor Dr Grant Blashki, feelings of uncertainty about having the vaccine are both natural and understandable.

“There’s been so much widespread misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine that it can be tricky for people to try and make sense of it all. This confusion can make some people feel very anxious.”

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He offers this advice as to how you might manage these doubts and alleviate vaccine-related worry.

“The first thing I’d encourage people to do if they’re feeling concerned about taking the vaccine, is to only source information about the vaccine and rollout program from credible sources,” advises Blashki.

These might include:

As well as making sure you’re well informed, Blashki also recommends keeping things in perspective.

“It’s normal to experience feelings of anxiety in times of uncertainty but try to remember that in terms of the COVID-19 vaccine the benefits far outweigh the risks,” says Blashki.

“We’re always taking risks in life and having to weigh things up. Getting in our car every day, that’s a risk but we’re prepared to take it so that we can get around with ease.”

In addition to trying to take a well-rounded view on things, it may help to keep in mind that public health authorities around the world are continuing to carefully monitor how people are responding to the range of vaccines that are already in use, and that Australia has benefited from these and many other scientific insights.

“We’re so lucky that in 2021 we've got such incredible medical advancement and technology that scientists have been able to produce a safe, effective vaccine so quickly,” says Blashki.

“Personally, and as a doctor, I'm all for it.”

Additional resources

For official information and advice from The Australian Government Department of Health see below:

Go here for the latest news and information about COVID-19 vaccines in Australia.

To find out when you will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine use the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker

There are some things you can do now, while you wait to be vaccinated. Find out what you can do to be ready for your COVID-19 vaccine.

For more advice on how to maintain mental wellbeing from Head to Health, go here.

The SIFT technique can help you filter and assess the news you consume, meaning you can stay well informed while protecting your mental health.

If your worries are persistent, intense, or interfering with your daily life, you may benefit from speaking with Beyond Blue, your GP or a mental health professional.

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