Anxiety disorders, COVID-19 fear, and vaccine hesitancy

J Anxiety Disord. 2022 Aug;90:102598. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2022.102598. Epub 2022 Jun 26.


Development of the COVID-19 vaccines unfolded in real-time, lending a sense that they were developed more rapidly than other vaccines. Long-term data on their safety and effectiveness is not yet available. Thus, people may have greater uncertainty about the COVID-19 vaccines than other vaccines. We know that people high in anxiety have greater intolerance of uncertainty (IUS) and may have greater fears of adverse effects and concerns about the vaccine failing to prevent COVID-19. Ultimately, people with anxiety disorders may have greater COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy (VH). This study examined the degree of VH in people with (n = 96) and without (n = 52) anxiety disorders, whether anxiety status has an additive effect on factors known to predict hesitancy, and whether reasons for VH differed across groups. Groups did not differ in VH, but IUS was associated with greater hesitancy in those without anxiety but with less hesitancy in those with anxiety. Both groups' strongest predictors of hesitancy were influenza vaccine history, conspiracy beliefs, individualism, and trust. The top reasons for VH were concerns about adverse effects and efficacy, and the top reasons to get the vaccine were to protect others and self. Implications for reducing VH are discussed.

Keywords: Anxiety disorders; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Vaccine hesitancy.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Vaccination Hesitancy
  • Vaccines*


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines