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Why Getting the COVID Vaccine Is Really Emotional

Megan Mulroy, LPC

Why Getting the COVID Vaccine Is Really Emotional: From My Perspective

           Last week, I headed to the United Center to get my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. I had spent what felt like forever waiting for my turn to get vaccinated, and since I had COVID fairly recently, I had to wait the 90 days after infection to safely get my shot.  Getting my shot at the United Center surprised me in a variety of ways. I was shocked at the well-oiled machine that was the registration, the check-in process, and the shot itself. I was surprised that the vaccine operation was run by the National Guard and everyone there wore army fatigues. I was even surprised that I had to sit in an observation room after my shot in case I had a bad reaction. What surprised me the most about that day was the tears that started from the moment I stepped out of my car until the moment I was cleared to leave the United Center. 

           ‘Why are you crying? Get it Together, Meg’ was the repeating thought I had as I worked my way through the vaccination process. I tend to be a pretty teary person, but I was surprised that such a happy day for me was eliciting such a strong emotional reaction. Once I got home and had the time to process my feelings, I realized that my emotions were really valid and made a lot of sense. After some research, I realized that I was not the only one who got emotional while receiving their shot. Reading this NPR Article  detailed some of the feelings that got kicked up for a lot of folks after getting the vaccine. These are some of the reasons why the COVID vaccine was really emotional for me, and maybe for you too.

SCIENCE| Seeing as I got my shot pretty a much a year to the date of everything shutting down was pretty surreal. I was floored and so grateful for scientists, epidemiologists, and researchers for dropping literally everything else in their lives to create these vaccines. Most vaccines take years to create, test, and administer. It is an incredible feat to have three different vaccine options available to us within such a short time frame.

GRIEF| Driving up to the United Center immediately flooded my mind with a ton of fun memories from being at the United Center. The last time I was there was with my dad at the Florence and the Machine Concert (which was epic, by the way). I thought about other shows I had seen, and sporting events I had watched there. The happy memories slowly turned to sadness, and I became overwhelmed with what we have all been experiencing for a year now: grief. In this moment, I was grieving activities and places that I’ve lost, and later, grieving all the people we have lost this year.

PAIN | I reflected a lot on the physical pain that I went through when I had COVID and the emotional pain that I carried with me while navigating being sick. Getting the shot reminded me of a very scary time in my life. I felt a lot of relief knowing that I would be protected from having to relive that very painful time.

HOPE & GRATITUDE| I think the biggest feeling that I felt while receiving my vaccine was hope. Hope that I could fully hug my grandparents without worry. Hope that I might be able to return to seeing my clients and coworkers in person. Hope that a year of isolation, fear, and stress might be ending sooner than later. The relief and anticipation of being one step closer to hugging my friends again was really overwhelming in a good way. I thought a lot about the people that I love while getting my shot, and how lucky I am that they are mostly healthy during the pandemic. My gratitude for my health and the health of my loved ones was insurmountable.

           I had a lot of mixed feelings that day, and still do as I am getting ready for my second dose soon. I am really curious as to what will show up for me emotionally when I am fully vaccinated. COVID has been an incredibly challenging and destructive time, so please do not hesitate to Contact Symmetry Counseling today to meet with one of our Chicago counselors in-person or via online counseling.

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