How to Cope With Vaccine Jealousy While You Wait For Your Turn

drawing of people waiting in line to get their covid-19 vaccine

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

Key Takeaways

  • Vaccine jealousy may start to rise as more people get their COVID-19 shots while others still have months to wait.
  • Working through jealousy can help preserve your relationships and maintain your mental well-being.
  • Getting the facts, focusing on things you can control, and mindfulness practices can help alleviate vaccine jealousy.

Scroll through your social media feed and you’re bound to see at least a few posts about people getting their COVID-19 vaccines. These images have inspired hope that the pandemic may soon come to an end.

It’s not over yet, though. Even though states have started expanding the guidelines about who’s eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, limited supplies mean that many Americans won’t receive their first dose for months. 

If you’re in one of the later phases of your state’s vaccination schedule, those once-hopeful social media posts can soon become frustrating. You might start to feel jealous of your family, friends, and neighbors who have received their vaccine—all the while recognizing that any COVID-19 vaccine going into someone’s arm will help smother the virus. How can you reconcile those feelings while waiting for your turn?

It’s not easy, but mental health experts have some tips to soothe vaccine jealousy. Here are some things you can try. 

Why You Should Curb COVID-19 Vaccine Jealousy

It’s completely understandable if you feel jealous of those around you who have received their COVID-19 vaccine, mental health experts say.

Ariel Kornblum, PsyD

It is possible to view those who get the vaccine as having a golden ticket back to [pre-pandemic] life, while others need to wait. This can lead to jealousy and anger for many people.

— Ariel Kornblum, PsyD

“The vaccine represents a light at the end of the tunnel and a pathway back to pre-pandemic life. It is possible to view those who get the vaccine as having a golden ticket back to that life, while others need to wait. This can lead to jealousy and anger for many people,” says Ariel Kornblum, PsyD, director of applied behavioral analysis services at Manhattan Psychology Group in New York City.

Watching life seem to return to normal for vaccinated people while you’re still social distancing and fearful of COVID-19 could make anyone green with envy. It’s important to work through those emotions, since intense feelings of jealousy can damage your emotional well-being and make the wait for your COVID-19 vaccine harder to bear.

“Jealousy can make individuals feel more helpless and alone. Jealousy can worsen over time and sometimes lead to debilitating, paranoid thoughts or persecutory delusions,” says Leela Magavi, MD, a board-certified adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist at Community Psychiatry in Newport Beach, California.

Plus, vaccine jealousy could poison the relationships you share with loved ones.  “Jealousy in a relationship can manifest as irritability and anger, and consequently, individuals in relationships of all kinds argue more,” explains Magavi. “If loved ones are excessively jealous and antagonistic, individuals can lose the motivation to strive for betterment and may consequently struggle academically and financially.”

Working Through Vaccine Jealousy

While the chronic stress and anxiety many people have felt throughout the pandemic can make it challenging to overcome vaccine jealousy, there are many techniques that can help make things easier. Here are some ways to alleviate feelings of envy related to the COVID-19 vaccine, according to mental health professionals.

Get the Facts

It can be extremely frustrating to think about other people enjoying the things you miss, like going to restaurants and taking vacations, while you’re still waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the reality is that people’s lives probably aren’t returning to normal right after they’re vaccinated. Recognizing the facts is crucial to curbing vaccine jealousy, says Kornblum. 

“Leaders and scientists have been quite clear that the vaccine does not guarantee an absolute return to pre-pandemic life. Masks are likely to be part of life for some time,” she says.

Thinking about the reasons why some people have been vaccinated before you can also help you feel less envious and part of something much larger than yourself. “The vaccine rollout has been developed in a way that the most vulnerable are protected first,” says Kornblum. “It is important to remember when feeling jealous that getting past this pandemic is a true group effort. The vaccine is just one piece of that puzzle.”

Recognize What’s In Your Control

Jealousy often stems from feelings of anxiety. And that anxiety is often rooted in a loss of control, says Magavi. Recognizing exactly what is (and is not) within your control can help you feel more empowered and ultimately relieve some jealousy. “Creating lists and reiterating the things that are in our control could alleviate anxiety,” she says.

Leela Magavi, MD

As human beings, we naturally fear death and losing others, so reminding ourselves [of] ways in which we can keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe helps us feel more in control.

— Leela Magavi, MD

You can’t control your place in line for a COVID-19 vaccine, nor can you change how quickly others will receive their shot. On the other hand, you can work to change your outlook on the situation and bring positivity into your life, says Kornblum.

“What are some ways you can create hope, excitement, and engagement in everyday life? Celebrate small victories and stay present in moments that really feel good,” she suggests. 

Limit Your Exposure to Media

Social and news media can trigger all kinds of upsetting emotions. Limiting the time you spend engaging with this kind of content can be a helpful way to avoid exacerbating feelings of jealousy and anxiety. You’ll also get more head space to work through your own emotions.

“I recommend families turn off the news and compartmentalize this time to limit exposure to anxiety-provoking information,” says Magavi. “Some individuals avoid watching the news altogether, but excessive avoidance can also increase anxiety levels. Voicing emotions, limiting screen time, and maintaining familiar routines as much as possible could alleviate anxiety symptoms.”

Simply closing social media apps after a fixed period of time could help you avoid seeing things that make you feel jealous and instead allow you to focus on your own well-being.

Practice Mindfulness

Jealousy can turn into a harmful cycle, preventing you from recognizing the good things in your own life. Instead of allowing it to fester, think of jealousy as a reminder to center yourself on the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can help, says Kornblum.

“Engage in a grounding routine—take in your environment, recognize that you are safe and capable of breaking the cycle. Commit to a mindfulness routine, do a yoga class, or practice intentional breathing,” she says. “All of these strategies can help the moment to pass and allow you to focus on positive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.”

Mental Health Support Can Help

Jealousy never feels good, but don’t beat yourself up if you’re having these emotions. The pandemic has been an extraordinarily challenging time for most people, and it’s normal to have negative emotions. 

If those feelings become difficult to manage, or you’re experiencing other mental health concerns, it might be worthwhile to get one-on-one support from a professional.

“Mental health concerns as a result of the ongoing pandemic are growing at an alarming rate,” says Kornblum. “It is important that all people, in addition to remaining focused on physical health, are also diligent about monitoring their mental health. If you are feeling concerned, contact a mental health professional as soon as possible.”

What This Means For You

It’s natural to feel jealous of those who’ve received their COVID-19 vaccines while you still need to wait months for your shots. However, vaccine jealousy can poison your relationships and impact your mental health, so it’s important to find ways to cope.

Acknowledge the way you feel, then find ways to move forward. It can help to recognize that people who get their vaccine won’t go back to pre-pandemic life right away. Focus on things you can control and consider trying a mindfulness practice to support your well-being. 

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Joni Sweet
Joni Sweet is an experienced writer who specializes in health, wellness, travel, and finance.