How Can I Talk to My Friends and Family About Getting Vaccinated for COVID-19?
It’s fair for people to have questions about COVID-19 vaccines. Fortunately, there are answers.
Over the past few months, millions of Americans have gotten vaccinated for COVID-19, bringing hopes that the coming months could look a lot more “normal” than the last 14.
But, as vaccines have become more widely available, it’s becoming clear that the new challenge isn’t just access—it will be addressing widespread questions and helping those who might still be on the fence decide to get the jab—especially those age 65 and older, who are at most risk of severe COVID-19.
It’s fair for people to have questions about the vaccine. Those who are vaccinated can help by becoming public health “ambassadors” and helping friends and family feel more confident about COVID-19 vaccines. So, what can you say to a loved one who expresses hesitation about getting vaccinated? What are the best resources to answer questions? How can you convince people that while getting vaccinated is a highly personal choice, it’s also necessary on a larger scale to help defeat the pandemic?
The first step is to connect on shared values and beliefs. We may all have different views of the pandemic and its implications, but we share many important ideals. Don’t make it a battle or competition. If you need more information or facts, the CDC, NIH, and the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center websites are good places to start.
This article addresses some specific hesitations. Rupali Limaye, an expert in vaccine hesitancy, Tara Kirk Sell, an expert in health security, and Elizabeth Stuart, an expert in mental health, provide some practical and interpersonal responses.
HESITATION: I plan to wait and see if the vaccine is safe and may get it later.
Everyone wants to be sure that they are as safe and healthy as possible. As of May 2021, more than 100 million Americans have been fully vaccinated. Public health agencies have been watching closely for any safety signals. We have safety data going back as far as August 2020, when Pfizer and Moderna first began vaccinating Phase 3 clinical trial participants. Based on the many vaccines administered already, we can feel confident that the vaccine has a really good safety record.
The reality is that not getting vaccinated puts you at much higher risk of severe COVID-19, which can make you seriously sick for a long period of time and possibly cause lasting damage. Getting vaccinated sooner can protect you from these risks.
SOURCE: NPR Vaccination Tracker
People often relate strongly to the experiences of those around them, so share that you have been vaccinated with friends and family; seeing others whom they trust and respect having made the decision to get vaccinated might help them feel more comfortable. And perhaps share your own decision-making process and why you decided to go ahead and get the shot(s)!