Health System Empowers People to Encourage Others to Get Vaccinated

stock photo of two people holding signs saying Vaccine Yes No - one has yes crossed out, one has no crossed out

As of early May, nearly a third of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated, and new coronavirus cases had decreased. The reasons that millions of Americans still have not been vaccinated varies: Those younger than age 16 still are not eligible to receive the vaccines. But some people who are eligible remain hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Reasons given include that the vaccines are unproven or unsafe or that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu, so if people are healthy, they don’t need a vaccine.

A team of experts at University Health in San Antonio has shared suggestions about how to talk with family and friends who are choosing to wait or not receive the vaccine at all. Outlined in a blog published on the health system’s website, the tips to talk about this topic “calmly and with kindness” include:

Keep the conversation positive. Share your own reasons for being vaccinated and your experience with the process, focusing on the positive. If the conversation turns into an argument, it’s best to walk away.

Demonstrate empathy. Ask “gentle questions” about why the person is hesitant about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and listen carefully to that person’s perspective. Acknowledge this decision can be scary, especially after dealing with the stress of the pandemic.

Come prepared with the facts. People are concerned about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for many reasons, so be familiar with common reasons and factual information that addresses those concerns and hesitancies.

The blog offers suggestions for how to respond to statements such as “The vaccines are unproven” and “I’m healthy, so I don’t need it” — with data points and links to further information and resources. It points out that nearly 600,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, including more than 50,000 Texans, and of those who have survived, many are experiencing long-lasting effects.

In addition, University of Health is keeping its patients and community informed with the most up-to-date news on COVID-19 vaccines. In the video “Vaccine hesitancy and what we have learned,” Bryan Alsip, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer, answers common questions and discusses vaccine safety and what’s been learned about managing a pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a webpage on “How to talk about COVID-19 vaccines with friends and family,” offering five recommendations and linking to a YouTube video.