Have a Conversation

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At the end of the day, we all want what’s best for each other. It’s time to do whatever it takes to move past the pandemic. Use the tips below to have a productive conversation about vaccination—because we can’t wait any longer.

Conversation Tips

Start with love

Before you get into the subject of vaccines, remind the person you’re speaking with that you’re having this conversation because you love and value them.

Check your judgement at the door

Approach the conversation with empathy and a genuine willingness to listen. Listen with your whole body. Look at them. Lean in. Make eye contact. Don’t interrupt. Don’t prejudge or rush to give your point of view. Plan ahead to help ensure you’re in the right environment to speak without distraction, ideally face to face. Remember, you have your own strong feelings about COVID-19 and getting vaccinated. You may not find a middle ground with just one conversation – and that’s okay.

Example Conversation Starter: Hey, can we talk about COVID-19 vaccines? I love you so much, and I’ve got to ask… are you vaccinated?

Ask open-ended questions

Ask non-judgmental questions with the goal of understanding the root of their hesitation. Many times, there are deeper issues rooted in vaccine hesitancy. For instance, a previous negative healthcare experience, such as a misdiagnosis or a doctor who was dismissive of their symptoms, can lead to distrust in the medical community. Understanding the root of one’s hesitancy is the first step towards a productive conversation about vaccines.

It can be challenging to manage a situation where you feel informed and are dealing with someone who is basing their opinion on incorrect information-- but the goal is to find a middle ground.

According to the CDC, it is important to ask open-ended questions to explore concerns instead of eliciting yes-or-no answers that might shut a conversation down. Keeping the conversation open will help you understand your loved one’s concerns about vaccination and where they might be getting their information.

Example Conversation Starter: Tell me what you think about COVID-19 vaccines? What are some of your concerns? Is there something I can do to help?

Learn together by finding sources you both trust

No one wants to be lectured. Instead of trying to force information, ask your loved one where they get their news about vaccination. See if you can find a source you both trust—whether a resource or family doctor—to gain insights from together.

Example Conversation Starter: I’d love to find a source we both trust to look into this concern together.

Keep the conversation productive by staying calm

Keep the conversation going by remaining open, upbeat and calm. Don’t transfer your anxiety onto your loved one.

Example Conversation Starter: I was scared too, but I found some great information from these sources. It was easy to schedule. Sure, my arm was sore for a few days, but I’m excited that I can see my family again and do the things I love.

Be supportive

When they’re ready to take the next step, be ready to help. See if you can offer assistance with childcare, transportation or anything they may need that will make finding the time to get vaccinated easier.

Example Conversation Starter: What do you need to make an appointment? Is there anything I can do to make this easier? I want to help.

Share your "why’’—and end with love

Remember, you might not change their mind with one conversation, and that’s okay. Thank them for talking with you. No matter how the conversation went, it’s important to end with an affirmation of how much they mean to you: a smile, a hug or a reminder of how much you love and value them can help you revisit the conversation later.

Example Conversation Starter: I love you so much and am always here to listen. I really appreciate you talking to me – I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to you and I hadn’t said anything. Maybe we talk more about this another time.

Not Sure What to Say?

Not sure what to say in these common situations? We have some suggestions:

How well do the vaccines work? I’m hearing that people vaccinated are still getting COVID so why bother?

COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases are expected—no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing illness. Even when fully vaccinated people develop symptoms, they tend to be less severe symptoms than in unvaccinated people. This means they are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than people who are not vaccinated.

I don’t trust the vaccines yet. I think it’s better to wait.

We get that waiting for more time to pass can feel like the safer option. But, according to the CDC, waiting to get vaccinated actually gives the virus the opportunity to develop more variants, meaning it can potentially spread more rapidly and may cause more severe illness than previous strains, especially in unvaccinated people.

I’m worried about how the vaccines were developed.

Researchers were able to develop COVID-19 vaccines so quickly because of years and years of previous research on related viruses. While COVID-19 vaccines were developed rapidly, all of the steps involved with bringing a new vaccine to the public, including vaccine development, clinical trials, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization or approval, manufacturing and distribution, have been taken.

I already had COVID-19, so I don’t need to get vaccinated.

According to the CDC, it is recommended that people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated to help avoid reinfection. Vaccination can provide a higher, more robust, and more consistent level of immunity to protect people from hospitalization for COVID-19 than infection alone for at least 6 months.

I want to get pregnant soon, and the vaccines aren’t safe for my fertility.

The CDC has advised that there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men, and experts recommend that people who are trying or considering getting pregnant in the future also get vaccinated against COVID-19.

I have time to get a vaccine. There’s no rush.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 makes individuals less vulnerable to infection, making the virus less prevalent in the population. This creates herd immunity. Getting as many people immunized as quickly as possible will help keep our families and communities safe.

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