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How to Deal with Vaccine Envy

We all want our shots at the same time: yesterday.

So your friends who are frontline workers have gotten their shots, as have the elderly and other essential workers, but when you see some younger people in line, it can make you wonder if they are jumping the cue or if they are legit. Truth is that most states have opened up the shots to anyone 16 and older so that's what's going on, but that may bring up all kinds of uncomfortable and negative feelings known as “vaccine envy.” It’s understandable to feel this way, given the scarcity of vaccine and how scary this pandemic is.

Wherever your place in line — and these days that largely depends on what county you live or work in — breaking the rules to get an early vaccine is just not cool. It’s better to wait your turn. Of course, some places have extra vaccine and have made some exceptions, and if you received your shot that way, good for you. But please don’t flaunt the fact, especially if you got your shot early, by posting on social media or by telling everyone you know. It can make others feel worse, and you don’t need to add any negativity to what’s going on in the world right now.

Getting your jab, as they say in the UK, is not a get-out-of-jail-free card either. You still have to follow the protocols. That means double masking, socializing within your own household, and hand washing. I follow Dr. Fauci, and until his daughter gets vaccinated, he isn’t seeing her in person. Getting your jab is not about being able to go out to a restaurant — it’s about saving lives.

My wife isn’t vaccinated yet, and I am, so our roles have reversed a little, but I still live life like I haven’t been jabbed, so I can best protect her. I’d love to push her ahead in the lineup, but neither of us would feel good about it.

Playing the waiting game is hard. But it will be your turn soon, and in the meantime, you may have to just cope and chill. There will always be people who jump the line, and you’re a much better person if you can learn to walk it.

If you feel yourself going down the rabbit hole of “I’ll never get one,” counter this thinking with positive self-talk reminding yourself that your day is coming. They just moved up all the dates by two months, and that’s 60 fewer days of anxiety! And it could happen again, so hang in there.

It’s natural to feel frustrated and even worried if you haven’t been vaccinated yet. Knowing that you have a real reason to be upset, and owning it, can help you deal with this year of fear we have been living in.

Your feelings need to be honored, not justified, so find a way to express them. We are living in more anxiety than we ever have before. Releasing your feelings to a therapist or a good friend is positive for both your mental and physical health.

Also, just spending a few minutes each day actively appreciating that you are alive and well at this point can be helpful while waiting for the vaccine. If you’ve made it this far and don’t change your behaviors, you will most likely remain healthy. Letting go of the need to control something that is completely out of your control will definitely decrease your anxiety and depression and help you continue to take care of yourself.

Your jab is right around the corner. So let’s keep our masks on and fitted, our hand sanitizer at the ready, and start making plans for the future.

More from Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.
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