Covid Vaccine Heebie-Jeebies

By Danielle Ofri
New York Times

The response has been almost like clockwork, at nearly every medical visit in the last few weeks. “It’s time for the flu shot,” I’ll say to my patients, “plus the updated Covid vaccine.” And that’s when the groans start.

In the past, the flu shot elicited the most resistance. The patients at my New York City practice would take their other vaccinations without a second thought but balk at the flu shot — because their sister is allergic to eggs, or because they’re sure that the flu shot always gives them the flu or because they just “don’t do” flu shots. Now, though, the majority of my patients respond along the lines of, “Fine to do the flu shot” — sheepishly pause, then say — “but not the Covid.”

When I ask my patients if they have any concerns or questions about the Covid vaccine, hardly any do. Practically no one asks me about safety data or how effective it is at preventing viral transmission, hospitalization and death. Almost no one asks me about current case counts or masking or Paxlovid. There’s just a vague hedge, or an abashed, “I don’t know, I just don’t.” As I try to suss out what’s on my patients’ minds, I can feel their own slight sense of surprise that there is no specific issue causing their discomfort about getting the updated Covid vaccine. It’s as though they have a communal case of the heebie-jeebies.

Read the full op-ed in the New York Times