Dear Miriam | Waiting on Vaccine Stirs Anxiety

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Dear Miriam,

I’m genuinely happy for my friends who are getting vaccinated. I’m also deeply anxious about my own “place in line” and how or whether I’ll be able to get the vaccine myself. How do I balance these two competing feelings?


Impatiently Waiting

Dear Waiting,

If things had gone as they should have with the vaccine rollout, I would have told you to practice patience, trust the process and celebrate that the people receiving the vaccines first are the ones who should certainly be receiving them first based on a well-researched and well-coordinated plan. Such is not the case, and yet, there’s honestly no better advice to be had.

Your friends who are getting them likely do fall into one of a few prioritized categories: health care professionals, people with preexisting conditions or elderly folks. They are indeed the ones who should be getting it now, and I don’t think you’re actually arguing against that.

You don’t need to be proactively happy for every individual you know who’s getting the shot, but your overall well-being may benefit from being glad that people are getting vaccinated at all. The rollout is slow and messy, but it is happening.

But as we see vaccine shortages and massive mishandling of the whole process (I’m looking at you, Philly), I understand that it’s becoming increasingly challenging to sit back and wait. The “trust the process” ship has more than sailed. If you are the kind of person who likes more information, register for waiting lists, research all the vaccine sites and stay up to date on vaccination numbers.

If each statistic only makes you more frustrated, tune it out as much as possible. Consider marking a day on your calendar every two weeks or so to look into how vaccinations are going, and then go back to the rest of your pandemic life in between those updates.

If you have friends who are jumping their place in line or engaging in other practices that undermine the already dysfunctional process, then you should find a safe place to express your feelings about that particular misuse of public health resources, though talking to those friends directly seems ultimately unhelpful.

Please do be sure in all this that you are not making any assumptions about anyone’s potentially invisible chronic health conditions, though. There are also places where people without preexisting conditions are getting “leftover” shots at the end of the day rather than having the vaccine doses go to waste.

You don’t have to like being patient. You don’t have to feel good about anything that’s happening right now. There’s, honestly, not that much to feel good about, even if you’re really trying hard to be optimistic. But the vaccines are coming, new ones are being approved and you will get it eventually.

In the meantime, the same pandemic practices we’ve been doing since March are still our best options. Mask up, take a walk, do a project and work on finding outlets for your impatience. I hope writing to me was one of those outlets, and that you find many more to pass the time until you, and the rest of us, get our turn in line to be vaccinated.

Be well,



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