Woman looking confused
Woman looking confused

Managing anxiety about having the COVID-19 vaccine

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

After almost an entire year spent navigating a global pandemic, Australia is currently in an enviable position with every state across the country making great strides in returning to normal life.

A successful nationwide rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will not only help contain the disease, it will also advance our social and economic recovery.

Vaccination of the Australian community is already underway with priority groups receiving the vaccination first. These groups include people that would be at higher risk of serious illness if they contracted COVID-19, and those most likely to be exposed to it.

In terms of an end goal, the Australian Government is aiming to have as many people vaccinated as possible in 2021.

What you can 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. While 73% of people in Australia would be willing to get a COVID vaccine if it is recommended to them, only 58% will try to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

Those who are hesitant about the prospect of receiving the vaccine may also be experiencing feelings of anxiety.

You may be concerned about whether the vaccine is safe and effective, how soon it’ll become available, or whether there will be enough for everyone.

According to Beyond Blue’s lead clinical advisor Grant Blashki, this is 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.”

Patients waiting to receive the vaccine at their clinic

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 carefully monitoring 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

The COVID-19 Vaccines National Rollout Strategy details COVID-19 vaccine priority groups and the phases in which vaccines will be available. Download the National Rollout Strategy pdf.

To find out which phase 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.

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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