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Immunization guilt, a new phenomenon

Vaccine envy is morphing into immunization guilt, a new phenomenon. For those who are meeting the vaccination eligibility criteria, and are lucky enough to score one, they are transitioning from being vaccine envious to now expressing immunization guilt. Despite being very grateful for the opportunity to get vaccinated, they are very conscious that there are others in need. These include individuals with medical conditions that do not meet current eligibility criteria. Younger individuals performing home caregiving for family members are also experiencing vaccine envy.

Individuals with immunization guilt are very sensitive to those challenged by the registration process, shortage of vaccine, and having difficulty getting to a vaccination site. Immunization guilt, similar to survivor guilt, is a new phenomenon gaining traction among those who have obtained the vaccine.

Vaccine bragging rights are making headlines by individuals who have “beat the system” in obtaining their vaccine. These types of social media posts reflect the extreme opposite of immunization guilt.  The disregard for equitable vaccine distribution has resulted in overwhelming negative publicity for these “line-jumpers,” and the vaccine administrators.

Nurses expressing immunization guilt

Nurses are one of the key front line professionals caring for those suffering from COVID-19. In their role, they are providing the most ongoing direct patient contact. It is a “no-brainer” that these professionals should be afforded the best available protection while caring for COVID-19 patients. Yet, there is a segment of the nursing professionals expressing that they do not feel deserving of the vaccine. Expressing that there are others who should come before them. Nurses are altruistic by nature, often placing patient’s needs before their own. Experiencing immunization guilt should not be a suffered emotion.

Nurses as role models

There is a larger group of role model nurses who are getting immunized. Thereby, demonstrating vaccine safety, and the importance of protecting themselves and others. There have been a significant number of nurses, first responders, and other healthcare professionals that have succumbed to COVID-19. This strains the healthcare delivery system for everyone. The lack of available professional staffing means that EMS and facilities will be challenged in providing needed direct patient. Nurses are taking a positive stand, setting the example that others should get in line to be vaccinated.

Help with herd immunity, counter immunization guilt

For those suffering from immunization guilt, you are part of a growing group that is helping the country on the journey to meet herd immunity. You are the example others need to follow to help the country reach the still elusive magic number. Herd immunity will be reached when over 70% of the population is immunized.

Action steps

  • Continue to wear your mask, maintain the physical distancing and wash your hands frequently
  • Help someone else get a vaccine by assisting with the registration process or transportation
  • Say a prayer of gratitude for having received the vaccine and pray that others will be able to get theirs’ soon
  • Consider a food bank donation or other contribution in honor of being vaccinated
  • Protect your immunization card, don’t take pictures of it and put it on social media. It contains key pieces of your identity and makes you a target for identity theft
Protect your card


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