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How to Talk to Friends and Family Hesitant to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

Have you gotten the vaccine yet? It’s a popular topic of conversation these days.

More than 70% of U.S. adults can answer yes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.

But about 11% say they are hesitant to get the vaccine, according to the survey.

What happens if someone you know is hesitant? It can be frustrating. You want to say the right thing to encourage your loved one to get the vaccine. But how do you do that? As a trusted messenger, you can play a role in helping someone decide to get vaccinated.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

How to Talk to Someone Hesitant About Vaccine

Focus on Family and Friends Who Are Open to Conversation

People who have reservations about the COVID-19 vaccine generally fall into 2 categories:

  1. Those who are firmly against getting the vaccine
  2. Those who are open to considering it, but have questions

Keep communication open with family and friends in both groups. But focus your efforts on those who are willing to have a conversation. Don’t close the door on friends and family who are against vaccination right now. They might be willing to talk later.

Remember that Getting the Vaccine Is a Personal Decision

When talking with family and friends, acknowledge that it’s good to be skeptical and have questions.

Don’t chastise or shame people for not getting the vaccine. That approach will likely cause defensiveness and shut down the conversation.

Be a Good Listener

Ask family and friends what their questions are. Listen with empathy and affirm concerns if they seem valid. Ask open-ended questions to explore their concerns further.

See if they are open to you sharing your own experience or reliable resources. Good sources of information include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and your local health department.

Explore Reasons to Get Vaccinated

After addressing concerns, try directing the conversation to finding the “why” to get vaccinated.

People who get the vaccine have their own personal reasons. It could be to protect their health, to protect their family, to be able to visit their parents, to get back to seeing friends, or going back to work or school.

You may want to share your reasons for getting vaccinated or discuss common goals you may have, such as spending time together safely.

Help Make Vaccination Happen

If your loved one makes the decision to get vaccinated, help make it a reality:

  • Offer to make the appointment for them and go with them if needed.
  • Offer to help with transportation or babysit if they need childcare.
  • Follow up after the vaccination to check in on them and offer support/encouragement.

Vaccine Finder is a resource that can help you locate a nearby vaccine location.

Every person who chooses to get vaccinated brings us all a step closer to putting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us.


Reviewed: April 2021