CDC: Many Immediate Reactions To COVID Vaccine Are Related To Anxiety

by Erica Gerald Mason
Originally Published: 
San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers/Getty

There are reports that some patients experience anxiety after receiving the vaccine

As more Americans receive the COVID vaccine, eyes have turned to potential side effects. This comes after reports that a small number of patients experienced blood clots after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described 64 accounts of anxiety-related reactions that took place at vaccination facilities in five states among individuals who had accepted the Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. Four out of the five locations temporarily shut down to investigate the reports.

An aversion to needles may be why some are reluctant to receive the vaccine. “Not my fear of needles making me procrastinate making my covid vaccine,” a Twitter user posted.

“Going to get my covid vaccine in my laine shirt so hopefully it’ll make me feel better while i cry about my large fear of needles,” one person tweeted.

The symptoms happened between April 7-9, before there were mentions of a slight risk of blood clotting, the CDC says.

The vaccination sites reported 64 anxiety-related situations, most of which settled “within 15 minutes with supportive care.” The most frequent symptoms patients reported were light-headeadness or dizziness, which presented in over 50% of the patients, which was often accompanied with sweating, fainting, nausea, and vomiting.

A small percentage of people (about one-fifth of respondents) who experienced anxiety-related symptoms after vaccination had already disclosed to clinic personnel their fear of needles or a history of fainting after receiving a shot.

“I’m on my way to get my first covid vaccine!” A Twitter user posted. “Of course my excitement is rattled by my fear of needles but I have a Boba Tea to focus my joy on in the meantime.”

The CDC took pains to mention that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is delivered in one dose, which makes it a better choice for those who are afraid of needles. This means if a person is afraid of needles, if, given the choice in COVID vaccinations, he or she would prefer to take one shot instead of two.

“Therefore, it is possible that some persons seeking [the Johnson & Johnson vaccine] could be more highly predisposed to anxiety-related events after being vaccinated,” the CDC wrote.

While reviewing the incidents, the CDC compared the reports of anxiety-related situations following receipt of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with those observed among those who received the flu shot — which is also administered as a single-shot vaccine – and it’s also a shot that’s accessible to all U.S. adults.

The CDC determined that reports of fainting were about 164 times more frequent after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Fear of needles can suck it,” one person tweeted. “2nd dose and Fully vaccinated.”

It has also been suggested that both pandemic stress and subsequent media coverage are contributing to creating significant anxiety among the population.

“Getting my first covid vaccine on Wednesday! I’m so ready to be vaccinated, but not ready to pass out from the shot” another person tweeted. “We love having a severe fear of needles.”

“Vaccine providers should be aware of anxiety-related events after vaccination and observe all COVID-19 vaccine recipients for any adverse reactions for at least 15 minutes after vaccine administration,” the CDC wrote.

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