The benefits of COVID-19 vaccine on mental health

Connor Robbs and Yi Pang, OD, PhD, FAAO, in a presentation at the American Academy of Optometry 2021 annual conference in Boston, highlighted a study focusing on a link between COVID-19 vaccinations and a lower rate of stress in ophthalmic personnel and students.

A positive and likely overlooked benefit of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, according to a team of investigators from the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago is the association between the vaccination and a lower rate of stress in ophthalmic personnel and students.

In a presentation at the American Academy of Optometry 2021 annual conference in Boston,

Connor Robbs and Yi Pang, OD, PhD, FAAO, explained that COVID-19 significantly impacted the mental health of ophthalmic personnel and students.

Robbs and Pang conducted a cross-sectional, survey-based, region-stratified study to determine if actually receiving the vaccines protected clinicians, staff, and optometry students from mental health components including, anxiety and stress.

An 18-question survey was sent to the ophthalmologists, optometrists, ophthalmic staff, and optometry students on January 21, 2021. These individuals had participated in the previous survey.

The survey, which was administered for 2 weeks and closed on February 2, 2021, collected information on demographics, stress level, symptoms for depression, anxiety, psychological stress using validated scales, and personal vaccine status.

Survey results
The investigators reported that 824 individuals (73.1% women and 25.0% men) in the US and Canada responded. Of those responders, 482 (58.5%) participates had had at least the first of the 2 vaccines, 84 (10.2%) had the first vaccine scheduled, and 257 (31.2%) had not yet scheduled the first vaccine.

The investigators reported that they identified a significant (p = 0.01, odds, ratio, 2.078) association between the stress level and vaccine status. It was noteworthy that among the eye care personnel and the students who had not been vaccinated, these individual were 2.08 times more likely to have the highest stress level compared with the ones who had been vaccinated.

No significant associations were seen between vaccination status and depression and anxiety (p > 0.05 for both comparisons), despite that both of the symptoms scores for anxiety and depression were lower among the participants who had been vaccinated than among those who had not been vaccinated.


“We found that COVID-19 vaccination was significantly associated with lower stress level in ophthalmic personnel and students,” they concluded. “This study shows the benefit of vaccination on certain components of mental health in ophthalmic personnel and students.”