It’s all in the head: New study claims COVID vaccine improved mental health, reduced stress

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A group of researchers conducted a study on how the Covid-19 pandemic impacts mental health and, more specifically, how the Covid-19 vaccine impacts the mental health of those vaccinated.

The research was conducted by the Understanding America Study, which conducted regular interviews of Americans between March of 2020 and June of 2021. One of the hypotheses being evaluated by the study was whether being vaccinated against Covid-19 reduced distress in the interviewed subjects, and subjects’ perceived risks of infection, hospitalization, and/or death.

The results seemed to indicate that there is some correlation and that the vaccine does induce a sense of relief in the recipients. Distress, as measured by answers in interviews, appeared to drop, and there was a 7.77 percent drop in the perceived risk of contracting Covid-19.

The perceived risk of hospitalization as a result of the disease dropped by 6.91 percent, the study found. The perceived risk of death decreased by a little less, recorded as 4.68 percent lower than those without vaccination.

Jonathan Koltai, who is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire and the lead investigator of the study, released a statement based on the findings in the published results: “Our study documents important psychological benefits of vaccination beyond reducing the risk of severe illness and death associated with COVID-19.”

There were different results depending on things like the race and socioeconomic status of the individuals being vaccinated. The group experiencing the largest decline in distress were American Indians and Alaskan Native populations.

The overall effects of Covid-19 saw a massive spike in depression, distress, and anxiety, as the pandemic spread. Even for those not directly afraid for their health due to Covid-19 itself, there were a number of stressors relating to job difficulties and other (primarily economic) anxieties from the side-effects of the pandemics and the frantic measures governments undertook to try and halt the spread.

The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted research that indicated roughly 40 percent of adults in the U.S. had reported having symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, alongside various other symptoms of mental health ailments such as insomnia, disordered eating behaviors, increased consumption of alcohol or other substances, as well as a worsening of various existing or chronic conditions.

Vaccination rates of those in the study indicated that Asian and Pacific Islanders were the most vaccinated ethnic groups, at 78 percent, with whites coming in second at 64 percent, indigenous groups such as American Indians and Alaskan Natives were next at 58 percent, and black Americans coming in at 54 percent.

“To ensure these benefits are widely shared, efforts to increase vaccination and booster rates in early 2022 need to prioritize equitable distribution and access to vaccines,” Koltai commented in his statement, regarding access to vaccines and discrepancies in vaccination rates among various ethnic groups.

According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 76 percent of people in the U.S. have been the recipient of at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with roughly 64 percent having received two doses. The figure drops significantly to 43 percent when the CDC calculated the number of eligible U.S. citizens who have received a booster shot.


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