Coping with COVID-19: Vaccine Envy

Waiting can be difficult.

Over 5 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Washington, and that makes us feel more hopeful for an end to this pandemic. But it takes time, effort, and a lot of patience to vaccinate millions of Washingtonians, especially with everyone over 16 now eligible.

With limited vaccine supply available, many people are still waiting patiently for their turn. For those still waiting, it can be difficult to see others showing off their vaccine cards and planning to return to more normal activities. We call this “vaccine envy.” It can include feelings of frustration, jealousy, and resentment towards those who already got the vaccine. This can add extra pain to what has already been a difficult year.

Many of us have experienced loss during the pandemic — the loss of loved ones, jobs, routines, and a sense of safety. These losses wear on our patience and our ability to deal with strong feelings. As a result, waiting for a vaccine can seem especially difficult and lead us to vaccine envy. It might even feel like a new kind of loss. But the good news is that there are things we can do to cope while we wait for our shot.

Accept our emotions

Accept and acknowledge how we feel. Express our feelings by journaling or talking to someone who also has vaccine envy. And try to find the root of what we are feeling — Is it an eagerness for normalcy? A sense of injustice? Do we feel left out? As we clarify what belies our vaccine envy, we can better address it.

Focus on what we can control

Vaccine envy can include feelings of anxiety, powerlessness, or a lack of control. Focusing on what is within our control can help us relieve those feelings.

One thing we can control is our health. For months, we have taken steps to protect ourselves from COVID-19. While waiting for the vaccine’s protection, we can continue wearing our masks, watching our distance, washing our hands, and getting tested if sick. We can keep making safe decisions to stay in control of our health — before and after the vaccine.

Reframe our thoughts

It’s normal to have negative thoughts that fuel feelings of vaccine envy. But it can help us to think about other ways to think about our experiences. Even though waiting for a vaccine can be frustrating, it means someone else is getting vaccinated. And, as more people get vaccinated, our communities become safer and safer. Being vaccinated benefits everyone, even those of us who are still waiting.

Be kind to ourselves

It’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions right now, like frustration, anxiety, impatience, resentment, or exhaustion. To handle these feelings, we can return to old ways of soothing ourselves, or try something new. We can recommit to taking care of ourselves by eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Or, we can get creative and try other self-care practices like yoga or meditation.

Get support

We are not alone. Connecting with others helps us with loneliness and isolation. Many are probably feeling the same way we are while waiting for their shots. It can be especially helpful to connect with them or a loved one. A simple text, call, or video chat can work wonders for how we think and feel. And, we can still meet others in person, as long as we do it safely.

We are resilient. We will get through this difficult experience. So, stay hopeful! We’re getting closer to ending this pandemic every day. Our vaccine supply is increasing each week. Soon, everyone who wants to get vaccinated will be able to do so. In the meantime, thanks for being patient and doing your part to keep our communities safe!

More information

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org. Check the vaccine locator tool to find out if it’s your turn for the vaccine and see a list of places where you can get it. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

Public Health Connection

From the Washington State Department of Health

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