Jealousy

How to Cope With Vaccine Envy

What to try if vaccine envy is getting you down.

Posted Mar 17, 2021 | Reviewed by Davia Sills

  • For people who are waiting to get their COVID vaccine, it's normal to feel anxious and even envious of those who already have theirs.
  • Having a balanced mindset and self-compassion can help ease any envy.
  • Consider how to be proactive during this time; let go of unhelpful beliefs that may be making life harder. 

Now that over 20 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, if you're still waiting for your turn, you may be starting to feel vaccine envy.

Personally, I started to feel it this last week as more and more of my friends shared they had been vaccinated.

Steven Cornfield/Unsplash
Source: Steven Cornfield/Unsplash

1. Balance your thinking.

I was guesstimating 50 percent of people I know had been vaccinated. In reality, the stats indicate that approximately 80 percent of people haven't received it yet.

When your estimate is more realistic, you may feel less salty about not having had your turn yet.

When we're feeling vaccine envy, our brain will most easily think of examples of people who have had the vaccine, and this leads to overestimation.

2. Be self-compassionate.

Talk to yourself kindly about your feelings. Acknowledge your envy (mindfulness of your emotions) and that envy is a universal human emotion that we all feel from time to time (an example of human connectedness). 

You might say to yourself something like, "I'm scared, and that's making me feel impatient." Or, "I'm bored of restrictions, and that is making me feel impatient. That's understandable."

3. Consider being proactive.

I had been relatively patiently waiting my turn until I saw a news article saying that, in my area, lots of appointments were going unused. At that point, I decided it felt ethical enough to try for a "leftover" dose. That worked!

I went to one pharmacy and asked to go on their waitlist. They put my name down but said I was unlikely to get called. However, the second pharmacy I tried happened to have a leftover dose right then. I got it within five minutes of walking in.

Depending on the situation where you live, you may or may not feel like attempting to get a leftover dose is ethical. If you conclude it is, my example shows it's worth a try.

Sometimes anxious people (or perfectionists) only want to attempt something if they are sure of success. You may not be entitled to a vaccine, but you are entitled to ask if one is available or to be waitlisted. Consider giving it a try, even if you think it's unlikely to work. You might be surprised. And don't be excessively put off by initial failure.

4. Check your beliefs.

If you have a lot of privilege and are accustomed to being first rather than last or in the middle of the pack, then you might be finding waiting hard.

If you're anxious, you may be worried that even if you've managed to protect yourself so far, you're going to fall just short and catch COVID just before you're eligible for the vaccine. This was my worry, and I had some intrusive imagery of this happening, as well as some superstitious thinking.

Remind yourself that the rising numbers of vaccinated people help protect you, even if you're not vaccinated yourself yet.

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Vaccine envy is a very understandable emotion, especially as many people excitedly talk about getting their shot. People are told to share they've been vaccinated to encourage others to get one, but other people sharing their excitement can also feel insensitive to people who are still waiting and would love access now. It's OK to have this reaction internally. It's understandable. 

As the number of vaccinated people rises, vaccine envy is likely to rise with that. Try the tips mentioned here to get through until it is your turn. If you are in the U.S., it's likely that your turn is coming fast and that your remaining time to wait is small compared to how long you have waited so far.