COVID-19 vaccine guilt is an emerging phenomenon since COVID vaccines came on the scene in the last month or two.
Effectively, what happens is, people who’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine feel guilty that they have got vaccine at the expense of others. And the development of guilty feelings emerges, along the lines of, “Why have I got the vaccine “and others have missed out? “Shouldn’t others receive the vaccine instead of myself?” And it’s important to recognise that if you’re having these feelings, is they’re probably pretty normal if you have them, and it’s pretty normal if you don’t have them.
And if you do have these feelings, it’s helpful to try and have a frame of reference that helps steer you through these guilty feelings. And there are a few tips that potentially can assist. Firstly, feeling guilty is a pretty normal emotion, and in fact, in this instance, shows that you have compassion for others. Secondly, guilt in its own form is not a destructive or damaging emotion, provided it’s got a context along the lines of the ones I’ve described. And thirdly, people who tend to feel guilt about things such as COVID vaccine, probably have a pretty strong moral compass.
So, if you are feeling this way, remember, firstly, the government, at least in this country, has set a very strict and predictable regimen for the rollout of the COVID vaccine, and that everyone in this country will have access to COVID-19 vaccine. Secondly, like all emotional states that are unsettling, it’s often useful to talk to somebody else. They can provide a frame of reference, give some balance to the perspective.
And then, finally, if those sorts of efforts don’t assist, talk to a professional, your GP, for example.
Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney