Vaccine hesitancy remains a pressing issue during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 69 percent of people in the US who are 12 years or older have received the full vaccine dosage, thus protecting them from COVID-19. Yet, a portion of the remaining population remains reluctant to get the vaccine. This group's decision is based on their concern about the vaccine's safety, lack of belief in the danger posed by COVID-19, and distrust for the government. Some also face logistical difficulties in getting vaccinated, either because they live in rural areas or do not have the ability to take sick days from work if they experience side effects.
A promising new study, published by researchers at the University of Southern California, found that individuals had significant decreases in mental health distress after receiving the first dose of the vaccine. This knowledge can, hopefully, push some vaccine hesitant people to receive their shots.
The researchers surveyed 8000+ people to measure their depressive and anxiety symptoms (mental distress level) before and after their first vaccine dose. They found that vaccinated individuals reported less mental distress after receiving the first dosage, while the unvaccinated group retained a consistently high level of mental distress for the entire 1-year study period.
Receiving the vaccine has turned from a health to a political affair as the remaining population voluntarily refuses to get vaccinated. This voluntary refusal puts themselves, the community, and individuals who cannot get vaccinated (like children under five years old and immunocompromised individuals) at greater risk of being infected with COVID-19. At this point, severe reactions to COVID-19 are preventable but will remain a significant problem until all eligible persons are vaccinated. This study shows that we have an opportunity to increase our physical and mental wellbeing. We must invest in more substantial policy at the corporate, state, and federal levels to increase vaccination rates now.