Anxiety and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Updated on June 28th, 2021

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Anxiety jumped sharply among Americans at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also dropped quickly once vaccines became widely available. We explored the relationship between rising vaccinations and falling anxiety.

The COVID-19 pandemic started in winter 2020, arriving in waves.

In April 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Household Pulse Survey began to track the pandemic’s mental health impact.

The survey shows anxiety rising nationwide to a year-end peak before plunging in 2021.

The launch of COVID-19 vaccines saw a dramatic easing in the national anxiety rate.

The state where anxiety fell the most in 2021 is Wyoming.

The number of residents reporting anxiety symptoms dropped by 52% from January to April.

See How the Pandemic Drove Anxiety Levels in Your State

Nationally, anxiety peaked in November 2020. Almost 40% of respondents to the Household Pulse Survey then reported anxiety symptoms in the last seven days.

But anxiety dropped by 26% from January 2021 to April 2021. That coincided with an increase in vaccinations given to Americans from just over four million to more than 200 million doses.

Rising vaccination rates correlate strongly with falling anxiety on a national level. But at the state level it's not so simple.

A high vaccination rate doesn’t necessarily match one for one with a drop in anxiety. For example, Maine is the most vaccinated state with more than 50% of the population fully vaccinated. But its anxiety level didn't drop as sharply. Maine had only the ninth highest drop (34.8%) in anxiety between January and April 2021.

Conversely, the state with the greatest drop in anxiety, Wyoming, was one of the least vaccinated (45 out of 50). States where anxiety eased the most like Wyoming (#1), Mississippi (#2) and Utah (#3) tended to be ones with low baseline anxiety that saw large jumps in the pandemic.

On the other hand, some states with high vaccination rates did see large drops in anxiety. The fourth most vaccinated state, Rhode Island saw the fifth largest fall in anxiety (41.6%).

Large states like California, New York, Texas and Florida generally posted lower drops in anxiety in 2021, but had higher overall anxiety levels during the course of the Household Pulse Survey.

State Ranking for Greatest Drop in Anxiety Since Vaccinations Began

StateDrop Since January 2021Pandemic Anxiety LowestPandemic Anxiety Highest
Wyoming51.90%16.90%38.80%
Mississippi50.40%24.40%49.20%
Utah47.50%20.20%38.50%
Rhode Island41.60%23.00%41.80%
Virginia39.90%22.30%37.10%
Oklahoma37.80%23.50%44.20%
Delaware37.20%21.80%37.70%
Ohio36.90%21.70%38.10%
Maine34.80%22.70%40.50%
Minnesota34.70%20.10%37.50%
Washington33.50%25.20%41.00%
North Carolina31.20%25.90%39.20%
Idaho31.20%22.10%37.90%
New Hampshire30.90%23.30%37.30%
South Carolina30.60%23.70%37.30%
Arkansas30.60%26.10%40.00%
Illinois29.50%25.10%38.00%
Colorado29.20%25.90%42.20%
Kansas29.20%24.00%40.40%
Hawaii28.80%19.60%37.20%
Pennsylvania28.30%24.80%38.10%
Michigan27.20%24.60%40.70%
Wisconsin27.10%21.30%36.00%
Alaska26.00%26.10%40.30%
United States25.50%23.95%39.63%
Georgia25.20%27.10%40.30%
Oregon24.50%24.20%45.40%
South Dakota24.00%20.90%34.70%
California23.60%30.40%39.90%
Iowa22.80%19.00%41.00%
Connecticut22.70%24.70%38.20%
Tennessee22.10%24.80%40.10%
Nevada21.50%27.40%43.70%
Missouri20.60%23.20%37.80%
New York20.40%26.80%36.60%
Massachusetts20.10%25.50%37.60%
New Jersey19.30%26.20%37.10%
Louisiana19.30%27.90%45.50%
Nebraska19.20%21.40%35.00%
Alabama19.00%20.70%40.10%
Kentucky19.00%26.60%40.20%
New Mexico18.50%22.70%44.70%
Maryland16.40%22.80%36.10%
Vermont15.00%23.30%38.00%
West Virginia14.40%26.70%41.60%
North Dakota13.30%18.40%32.60%
Florida10.40%27.60%39.00%
Arizona9.60%25.60%41.30%
Indiana9.50%28.30%37.70%
District of Columbia9.30%23.80%45.60%
Texas8.90%28.80%42.30%
Montana5.90%22.60%39.90%

Sources: CDC/Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey (anxiety data). OurWorldInData.org (COVID-19 data).



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