I feel ashamed that I got the COVID-19 booster shot ahead of others

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m an office worker in my 30s. I am able to work completely from home and shop online. I almost never leave the house, and I have received my third dose of the novel coronavirus vaccine.

A soup kitchen for the needy was being held next to the vaccination site, and I was surprised to see how many people were struggling to make ends meet. Young staff were working hard there, and I imagined there were people working at such places because the restaurant and other businesses were not operating as usual.

I felt ashamed that I had gotten the third inoculation out of eagerness. By avoiding the risk of infection, I increased the risk for others who do the shopping for me, and I’m not spending money on eating out or for leisure activities. I realized I was turning away from the outside world and thinking only of myself.

However, it cannot be denied my current lifestyle helps when it comes to infection prevention. I know the problem is beyond my realm and there is nothing I can do about it, but I feel a bewilderment occupying my mind. How should I deal with these feelings?

— A, Tokyo

Dear Mr. A:

First I want to say there is no need to feel ashamed of having received the booster so soon. I hope many people in the country will get it as soon as possible, which is very much appreciated in this severe infection situation. Moreover, you have naturally been living a life that suits your coronavirus-prevention measures. Why is that suddenly becoming a bewildering experience for you?

It means you have begun to feel what is happening now, not as a stranger, but as a firsthand experience. These feelings arose when you saw the needy lined up at a soup kitchen next to the vaccination site. That is right.

You were able to really accept the fact that you did not really know how things are. What is happening in the world today is also never on the other side of TV or the internet. These things are happening in the world. Of course, there are disasters, too.

In the future, when there are things that feel beyond your realm and beyond your control, you will always feel bewilderment. I hope you will not close your mind at that time, but look at what is happening and accept it. Moreover, I want you to think about what you can do yourself, even if it takes time.

— Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist