Health & Fit How to Cope With Anxieties and Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines

21:55  12 april  2021
21:55  12 april  2021 Source:   self.com

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Hello! I'm Zahra, SELF magazine's interim editor in chief and the new host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about—what else?—the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, plus what to expect when you get your own vaccine if you haven't already.

View the content here.

We know that the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S. are overall very effective at preventing symptomatic illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, even though the exact numbers depend on the vaccine in question. It also seems like the vaccines may at least somewhat prevent asymptomatic illness and transmission of the virus too. And we also know that, like pretty much every medical drug or treatment, you may experience a few temporary side effects when your immune system begins working to protect you post-vaccination. But that's really just scratching the surface in terms of everything there is to discuss about these vaccines.

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In today's episode, multiple listeners call in to share their questions and feelings about COVID-19 vaccines. Megan is wondering how to cope with her anxiety surrounding the vaccine side effects. She's specifically concerned because she has emetophobia, a severe fear of vomiting, and knows two people who said they vomited after getting their COVID-19 vaccines. Bethann is curious to know if there's any meaning behind not having side effects post-vaccination, which is what happened to her. And Cierra would like some clarity on how to handle her concerns about getting vaccinated when she has various underlying conditions.

New episodes of “Checking In” come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of “Checking In” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Having questions about COVID-19 vaccination is pretty universal right now. I'm in that weird liminal space between my first and second doses, and even though covering the coronavirus is a huge part of my job, I still have questions. So do my friends and family, and so do strangers whose social media posts I scroll through during the day.

But the questions so many of us have aren't necessarily just about the vaccines or side effects themselves, even though it can seem that way. For the past year, we've been collectively grappling with a level of anxiety and uncertainty that is, yes, unprecedented. It's no wonder that we'd feel these kinds of emotions when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines too.

So, to help unpack the answers to these questions and explore these very natural feelings, I spoke to two people who are experts in this realm in their own way. First, I chatted with Tara Smith, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the Kent State University College of Public Health and frequent SELF contributor. Dr. Smith walked me through so much of the nitty-gritty science here in a really helpful, easy-to-understand way. She explained how the different COVID-19 vaccines offer protection, debunked some persistent vaccine myths, explained why side effects can happen (or not), and emphasized that actually worrisome side effects are reassuringly rare. She also gave some useful insight into her thoughts on how the vaccination rollout has gone so far and how it can get better—along with how to navigate it yourself.

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Then I called up Sarah Jacoby, SELF's associate news director. Sarah has been keeping an extremely close eye on the vaccine development and rollout process from the start, making sure we cover what people need to know in a way that's accurate and empathetic. When we spoke, she was honest about her initial journalistic instinct to be skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccines really being as good as they seemed, and how her reporting helped her realize that these vaccines are indeed worth celebrating. She also opened up about her own vaccination process, including the anxiety she felt about potential side effects, and how some really lovely vaccine administrators helped her through it.

After talking to Sarah and Dr. Smith, I'm feeling even more grateful that we have these vaccines. But I'm also still concerned about a few key things, like the inequitable rollout that makes it harder for communities of color to access the vaccine. I continue to worry about some states relaxing restrictions too soon, especially in light of coronavirus variants that seem to be increasingly circulating. Sarah summed it up well when she said, “I just don't want people to throw caution completely to the wind, because we know that even with these really effective vaccines, it's going to be a gradual process to contain the pandemic.”

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Show Notes

Tara Smith, Ph.D., is a professor of epidemiology at the Kent State University College of Public Health. She obtained her Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Toledo and her B.S. in biology from Yale University. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on zoonotic infections (infections which are transferred between animals and humans), and she has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on topics in infectious disease epidemiology. You can follow her on Twitter @aetiology and read her work for SELF here.

Sarah Jacoby is the associate news director at SELF. She's an experienced health and science journalist who is particularly interested in the science of skin care, sexual and reproductive health, drugs and drug policy, and mental health. Sarah is a graduate of NYU's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program and has a background in psychology and neuroscience. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram and read her work for SELF here.

Zahra mentions a March 2021 survey about there being little difference in vaccine hesitancy between Black and white Americans. You can find more information on that here.

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If you’re interested in learning more about any of these topics, here are some articles from SELF you might enjoy:

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On COVID-19 vaccines:

Here's How to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

9 Ways to Prepare for Your COVID-19 Appointment

What Can You Do After Your COVID-19 Vaccine? The CDC Just Released New Guidelines.

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe for Pregnant and Breastfeeding People, According to New Study

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Why States Reopening Too Soon Is Still Extremely Dangerous

Finally, here's all of SELF's coronavirus coverage to date.

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