Being vaccinated gives many the freedom to live more familiar lives.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Vaccination rates in the Carolinas are slowly increasing week to week, and leaders are hoping those who have yet to receive the vaccines will reconsider their decision.
In North Carolina, 52% of the population is fully vaccinated and 57% is partially. In South Carolina, half of the eligible population is fully vaccinated and 59% of the eligible population has at least one injection.
Experts say the majority of people hospitalized are not vaccinated and most deaths from COVID-19 are now preventable.
What’s more, new research shows that for some, vaccines do more than protect them from severe cases of the virus, they also have a positive impact on their mental health.
A local psychotherapist said she had noticed a surge in the number of people seeking mental health services during the pandemic, and the rollout of the vaccine had brought many feelings of relief.
The world essentially shut down in March 2020, and that led to a lot of people shutting down as well. New feelings of stress and anxiety surfaced as COVID-19 spread.
“COVID has isolated a lot of us and therefore a lot of the coping mechanisms that were healthy that we had, like if you’re feeling down, hanging out with that particular girlfriend, or seeing family members, suddenly these things are gone, ”said Soltana Nosrati, LCSW.
The deployment of the vaccine was the light at the end of a very long tunnel for some. For many grandparents, this was the key to having more quality time.
“We wanted to make sure we got the vaccine as early as possible so that we didn’t have too much time away from her,” said Vivian Derienzo. She and her husband spoke to WCNC Charlotte as soon as they arrived from Florence, in town, to visit their 3-year-old granddaughter, Olive Rose.
New research shows that the short-term effects of the injection on mental health were significant.
“It was satisfying to know that you had done something to fix the problem,” said Derienzo. “That there was something that could be done to make sure you didn’t get COVID so we were online first and foremost, we were glad we got it.”
Soltana Nosrati, psychotherapist at Novant Health, says the vaccine not only alleviates some of the fears surrounding the virus, but gives many people the freedom to live lives more familiar to them.
“That human contact is the only thing missing and the vaccine opens the door to more things with a little less risk. I think that’s a big deal regardless of what age group you are looking at, ”Nosrati said.
Nosrati also said that for some, the thought of getting the vaccine arouses feelings of anxiety. She said these feelings are valid and need to be recognized and discussed. Dismissing these feelings won’t help change minds or allay fears.
WCNC Charlotte is one of seven major media companies and other local institutions that report and engage the community around issues and solutions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and invigorate local media ecosystems. See all our reports on charlottejournalism.org.