Let’s Talk: Opening Up About the COVID-19 Vaccine
We’ve all been dealing with COVID-19 for a while now, and so many surprising and unexpected things have happened in the last year. Almost everything about our world has changed in some way, including our relationships. COVID-19 created a lot of hardships and pain around relationships, as many of us were not able to be with those we love during the pandemic.
The vaccine allowed us to come together again, but unfortunately, the vaccine has become a point of friction in some families and friendships. Many teens and parents are wary of the vaccine because they’ve heard negative information about possible side effects (some real and some fake). For us to understand the safety and importance of getting vaccinated, we need to listen to each other. Here are some tips to help you have a constructive conversation about the vaccine.
Listen To Questions With Sensitivity.
COVID-19 vaccines are new, and it’s normal for people to have questions about them. The sheer amount of information—and misinformation—about COVID-19 vaccines can be overwhelming to anyone. And if your teen or parents are getting conflicting messages on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, they will need you to listen with sensitivity and an interest to understand their fears or concerns. Start by listening without judgment and identifying the root of their concerns. For example, you can say, “It sounds like you are stressed at school (or work) and home, and the vaccine concerns you have are another source of stress. That’s really tough.”
Ask Open-Ended Questions To Explore Their Concerns.
Open-ended questions are meant to elicit more than a yes/no answer. Asking open-ended questions can help you understand what your teen or family member is worried about, where they learned any troubling information and what they have done to get answers to their questions. Try not to sound judgmental, and ask questions that help you understand their concerns. For example, you can ask, “What concerns do you have? How does social media make you feel about getting the vaccine?” You can also ask if you could share some information you have on the vaccine.
Help Them Find Their Own Reason To Get Vaccinated.
Everyone who chooses to get vaccinated does it for a reason—to protect their family, to protect their friends, to be less anxious, to visit their grandparents, to get back to activities or returning to school. You may choose to share your reasons for getting vaccinated or discuss common goals you may have, like visiting with each other safely. The reasons that someone may choose to get vaccinated will always be those that are most compelling to them personally. For example, you can ask, “If you were to choose to get vaccinated, why would you do it? What would be a good reason for you to overcome the concerns you have?”
Help Make Vaccination Happen.
Once someone decides on their “why,” help them make a commitment to get vaccinated by making the path to vaccination shorter, easier and less stressful for them. Offer to help your teen, family member or friend make a vaccination appointment at a location nearby and, if needed, go with them to the appointment. You can find the nearest COVID-19 vaccine site by going to vaccines.gov. Offer to help with transportation or to babysit if they need child care. Remember, every person who chooses to get vaccinated brings us all a step closer to moving past the COVID-19 pandemic. As a trusted messenger to your family and friends, you can play a role in their decision to vaccinate.