Post-Vaccine Covid Fear - A Different Way to Look at the World
Many posts on Connect recently have discussed what we can or cannot do safely after being fully vaccinated for Covid, and peoples' fears of going back out into the world after this year of isolation. Every day, the media blasts us with more "evidence" of infection after being vaccinated, of the effectiveness, of new variants…raising enough fear to give anyone gray hair. Suddenly the "magic bullet" we all waited for, the vaccine, doesn't seem so wonderful any more.
Living with asthma, bronchiectasis & MAC, with attendant fear of any respiratory infection for 3 years has taught me that quality of life is dependent on minimizing (not eliminating) risks, then putting the fear way. If I live for 30 more years, but in fear and isolation, that is no quality of life, so I choose to use "best practices" to minimize risks, then get on with my life.
As a lifelong "research junkie" I try to find the best possible information to present to people here on Mayo Connect. Every couple days, I take a deep dive into the most current info on a number of sites to see what the actual evidence – not the media hype – says about Covid vaccine effectiveness. The CDC tells us their information says it is safe for vaccinated people to cautiously resume activities. Looking "under the headlines" at the news stories, I read that fully vaccinated people are protected from severe illness by the vaccine.
For example, a week or so ago, it was headline news that Minnesota reported 89 cases of Covid in the fully vaccinated population. That represented less than .1% of the number of vaccinated people in the state. Only one person was hospitalized and none died – or vaccine effectiveness over 99%. When you consider that the fully-vaccinated are those at highest risk of severe illness (older people & people with underlying conditions) or prolonged exposure (medical personnel & educators) that's pretty impressive. Examples from other states are similar. I believe information like this is sufficient reason to relax and cautiously make the decision to enjoy life again.
Here is how I see my post-vaccine world: I still am not ready to jump on an airplane full of people, or go to a crowded concert or bar. But it is time to visit with others, eat at a patio table in a restaurant, get a haircut or a pedicure, and go buy a pair of shoes. I am fully vaccinated, wear a mask in (distanced) social settings with unknown or unvaccinated people, wash my hands and avoid crowds (as in unmasked groups in close proximity for long periods.) I feel I am as safe going out of my home today as before Covid – maybe more so as the mask keeps away other viruses like colds & flu. At this point, the risk of severe Covid for a vaccinated person is less than the chance of being hit by a car or falling down and breaking a hip.
If you are still fearful after being fully vaccinated, it is possible that your fear and isolation may be worse than for you than your illnesses or diseases.
Some ways to deal with this are to
– turn off the scary news and listen to something positive or pleasant (this includes avoinding negative social media sites)
– personal spiritual or meditation practices or mindfulness exercises (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356),
– talk to someone – friend or professional -who can help ease your mind.
I wish you all good health and peace of mind,