How to Talk to People Who are Vaccine-Hesitant

man and woman talking

Fact: Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary for the general health of the population. The novel coronavirus has shown us how devastating a disease without a vaccine can be. Without vaccines, we would see the return of long-forgotten diseases that have been under control for decades. This resurgence could result in widespread sickness and death.

Despite these facts, many people choose not to vaccinate, and some have even become vocal proponents of the anti-vax movement spurred on by misinformation spread across social media. 

Besides making sure you and your family are up-to-date on your vaccinations, one of the best ways to protect herd immunity and to combat vaccine misinformation is to share factual information. But, to help avoid a potentially uncomfortable, tense, and even stressful situation, here are a few tips to help you speak with people who are vaccine-hesitant.

3 Tips: How to Talk to the Vaccine-Hesitant

  1. Ask questions. By asking questions, you’ll gain a better understanding of where they are coming from and what is behind their beliefs. There are many reasons why people are vaccine-hesitant or become anti-vaxxers. Some want the freedom to make their own choice, while others don’t believe vaccines are safe and prefer a more “natural” approach, and unfortunately, there are some that believe vaccines are a plot by “Big Pharma.” If you ask what about immunizations makes them uncomfortable, for example, you will have an opportunity to answer with factual information and make the conversation feel less like an attack and more like a discussion where you can find common ground.

  2. Go easy. It may be tempting to roll off a list of facts, but that can make people feel bombarded and overwhelmed. Try to keep it friendly and conversational and drop in facts and statistics when necessary to back up a specific point.

  3. Be respectful. Calling someone an idiot or telling them they are a terrible parent will only inflame the situation. It’s essential to keep in mind that everyone is trying to be the best parent they can be. Approach the conversation with empathy and present the facts and your argument calmly. 

Facts alone may not change anyone’s mind, but listening and being respectful while sharing factual and substantive information can. And most importantly remember that, like you, the vaccine-hesitant care for their children and want what’s best for them, they just have different ideas of the best ways to do that. By having a conversation about science-based vaccine information, hopefully, you can open their minds to the safety and importance of vaccines. 

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