More than 27 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine – and if you’re not one of them, your patience may be wearing thin.
Sure, we all know there’s a priority list for a reason, but it doesn’t stop us feeling a little jealous of the vaccinated folk booking holidays and planning post-lockdown gatherings with wild abandon.
Lucy Baker, who half-jokingly describes herself as “a 44-year-old exhausted mum-of-three from Kent”, says vaccine envy is real. “I’m desperate to be part of the club,” she says. “I want to have it so I can see my beautiful parents. It’s a bit ‘me me me’, but I think I’m allowed after the pants 12 months we’ve had!”
Michele Theil, who’s 22 and based in London, has felt the green-eyed monster rising since four of her closest friends got vaccinated – even though they’ve all been prioritised “for good reason”.
“While I know I don’t deserve to get it soon, I really wish I could!” she says. “Mostly I just want to go back to normal and the vaccine feels like the next step for that, and until I get it I don’t think I will feel ‘normal’ again.”
Theil feels “in limbo”, while vaccinated friends are feeling more hopeful and carefree, already making plans for when restrictions lift. “They’ve been booking so many things for the summer, which I will hopefully be able to go to, but I’m nervous,” she says, “and seeing reports of vaccine passports makes me anxious that I’ll miss out on stuff that my friends can go to.”
Others are envious because the priority list is putting life plans on hold. One 31-year-old, from Hertfordshire, says she wants to start trying for a baby, but not until she’s fully vaccinated as pregnant woman can’t have the jab.
“I am increasingly desperate and hating on everyone, particularly other people my own age getting one already – even if I completely understand the reasons why they’re ahead of me,” says the reader, who wishes to remain anonymous.
“We already put off trying last year because I didn’t want to be pregnant, go to scans alone and have a baby in lockdown. So now it feels like yet another year slipping by.”
“Mostly I just want to go back to normal and the vaccine feels like the next step for that.”
Some are feeling envy mixed with apprehension about their place in the priority list, because of concerns for their own health or their family members’ health. “I feel apprehensive being at the back of the queue with a BMI over 30,” says Chloë Maughan, 27, from Bristol.
“In some countries, BMI over 30 has qualified people for early vaccination, whereas in the UK, BMI over 40 has been used as the threshold. It’s hard not to panic when the government has spent a year banging on about BMI being a risk factor. I know I’m going to be too nervous to start socialising much.”
Maughan is pleased older people are being prioritised as age is the biggest risk factor, “but I just wish people realised there are still a lot of us who are still very concerned about our own health”.
Claire Barker, 33 from Hertfordshire, says the jab would give her “massive peace of mind” as she has a two-year-old son who relies on her, as well as caring responsibilities for her mum and elderly neighbour. “I worry what would happen to them if I passed away from Covid or was very ill with long Covid,” she says.
So, how can you deal with vaccine envy, whether it stems from plain old jealously or is steeped from deeper anxiety?
“Take steps to reduce your stress, as stress has a negative impact on our immune system anyway,” advises psychotherapist Lucy Beresford.
“Instead of ‘future-tripping’ about what isn’t happening in your life, stay as much in the now by throwing yourself into tasks to stay busy,” she says. “Keep your diary full of people to chat to on the phone or online. Focus on gratitude, such as the knowledge that you are going to get the vaccine at all, whereas other countries are making that difficult.”
For feelings of anxiety, the ‘5:5:5 breathing technique’ can help, she adds, as it forces you to focus on your breath in the present moment. Simply breathe in for a count of five, hold for five, exhale for five.
“You could try Yoga with Adriene to give you purpose – her recent 30-day challenge also focused on the breath, with different techniques,” adds Beresford. “Mediation, such as classes taught by the London Meditation Centre or practitioners like Mira Eskakiya, is also great for staying in the now.”
Find out who can currently get the Covid-19 vaccine on the NHS website.