THURSDAY, Feb. 24, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Receipt of COVID-19 vaccination is associated with declines in psychological distress reported by U.S. adults, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Jonathan Koltai, Ph.D., from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and colleagues regularly interviewed a nationally representative cohort of U.S. adults (8,090 people) participating in the Understanding America Study between March 2020 and June 2021 (28 waves) to assess whether COVID-19 vaccination reduced psychological distress.

The researchers found that vaccination was associated with a decline in distress. Specifically, vaccination was associated with a 7.77-percentage point drop in the perceived risk for infection, a 6.91-percentage point reduction in the perceived risk for hospitalization, and a 4.68-percentage point reduction in the perceived risk for death. Vaccinated and never-vaccinated respondents followed similar Patient Health Questionnaire 4 trends before vaccination but diverged significantly after vaccination. There was variance observed in the effect of vaccination on distress by race/ethnicity, with the largest declines observed among American Indian and Alaska Native individuals.

“Our study documents important psychological benefits of vaccination beyond reducing the risk of severe illness and death associated with COVID-19,” Koltai said in a statement. “To ensure these benefits are widely shared, efforts to increase vaccination and booster rates in early 2022 need to prioritize equitable distribution and access to vaccines.”

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