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Mental health experts weigh in on vaccine hesitancy

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 10:29 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Vaccine hesitancy is still an issue in the United States. More than 162 million Americans have received their shot. That leaves us still under 50 percent. Here in Kansas, just over 41 percent of people are fully vaccinated.

Making the decision to get the shot is not an easy one for some people like Renee Carrion. She had the virus twice and was even hospitalized. Even through the hardships, she said she’s not ready for the vaccine.

“I know people think because me getting to the point of being suck twice and then hospitalized, going through what I did with my aunt, that I would’ve been he first on board. Well I’m not.” Said Carrion.

Carrion said it’s nit that simple. She said it’s the thought of the side effects that worry her the most.

I do not want the vaccination,” said Carrion. “I don’t want to get sick. I do have friends who had COVID and they got very sick after their first shot, and they did have anxiety. We could relate.”

She said what she went through was a traumatic experience.

“The other day I didn’t feel well,” said Carrion. “Right away I started having panic attacks. Anxiety set in. I was like this is why, this is why I don’t wan this again.”

Eric Littwiller with the Mental Health Association said many COVID survivors are now dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“We have been anticipating PTSD since last march,” said Littwiller. “Hearing that people are living and especially those that had to get hospitalized by it, is not unusual or unexpected.”

Psychologist Molly Allen said avoiding the vaccine is a coping mechanism.

“That in her mind is apparently a much more remote rather than an immediate effect,” said Allen. “So it’s like well okay, I just want to avoid the immediate effect. I’ll deal with the remote effect later. Again, it’s kind of counting on wishful thinking rather than the facts.”

Both experts encourage people to think about their decisions, and consider what’s at stake.

“How long is the pain of getting a shot? Half a second and it’s over,” said Allen. “How long is the pain with COVID? Days, weeks, months, your lifetime.”

Mental Health experts said 31 percent of COVID long haulers will develop a neurological or psychological illness six months after recovering.

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