How vaccine-related fears affect the flu shot experience: Study finds fear reduces vaccine uptake, increases symptoms of dizziness

A novel long-term study of how vaccine-related fears influence flu shot outcomes has found that these fears not only reduce vaccination, but also fuel symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness at the time of the injection.

These fears can have such a hold on some people that they may get a flu shot one year, but skip it when the next season comes around, the survey results showed.

The pandemic enabled an evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine intention and uptake as well. Responses suggested that the combination of vaccine-related fears and feeling dizzy and lightheaded while getting a flu shot led some people to say they weren’t likely to get the COVID vaccine — and then not get it.

While researchers already knew these fears and symptoms exist, this study showing their impact on outcomes points to the need for interventions that address fear and potential dizziness at the time of vaccination — which hasn’t been studied very much, said study author Jennifer Kowalsky, assistant professor of psychology at The Ohio State University Newark campus.

“Interventions could be developed that help people face fears — people who want to get vaccinated but have fears holding them back,” Kowalsky said. “Beyond targeting fears, we could also improve the experience when the person is getting vaccinated to reduce the risk and severity of symptoms.”

The study was published recently in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.

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