Friday , September 24 2021

‘Science has impressed it’: How do you convince someone to get vaccinated? | Vaccines and immunization

Guardian Australia asked readers how they talk to hesitant family and friends about the vaccine, and what arguments work.

More than 200 responses spawned a range of experiences and responses. Presenting the science and facts behind vaccination and thinking about the future as well as others were arguments that readers found effective. They also offered advice on approaching the conversation, with suggestions for being an active listener and taking the conversation down to a personal level.

While hesitancy is not the only reason for slow vaccination, it is a factor fueled by confusing and changing information. The importance of chatting with those around you about the vaccine was reinforced by the following recurring phrases; family and friends may express this in a way that one does not “think about”.

‘Science impressed him’

“My mom was convinced by a combination of data that the vaccine would likely cause clotting versus the relative chance of serious complications from Covid. It was science that drove her.” Simon, Melbourne

“Data is helpful, such as 97% of Covid patients in the intensive care unit in the US are unvaccinated. The death rate from AstraZeneca blood clots is one in a million.” GP, Melbourne

“After hearing about the health workers at the West Hoxton birthday party who were the only participants who were vaccinated and didn’t get Covid-19, they changed their minds.” Ayse, Darwin

“My mom was hesitant about AstraZeneca because she had clotting problems in the past. What worked was getting her to talk to her GP. His doctor assessed the level of risk, gave him the facts, and reassured him. He gave the first injection the other day and is doing fine.” Casey, Sunny Beach

Melbourne vaccine
‘It’s more about protecting others than protecting yourself’ Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

“Provide information from credible scientists and doctors (not politicians) that talks about safety and demonstrates peer-reviewed scientific studies. Get away from politics!” Unnamed healthcare worker, Melbourne

“They often say that vaccine development is rushed. I would like to point out that most of the work on SARS-CoV-1 has already been done and none of it has been rushed. The bureaucracy has accelerated, but clinical development has been as rigorous as ever.” Lisa

‘We owe it to others’

“I said I know how you feel. I was hesitant too, but the thing is, I couldn’t stand the thought of being partially responsible for someone’s death.” Beth, Melbourne

“Hospitals can’t cope with too many people getting sick at the same time. If I don’t get vaccinated and then I get sick, I will contribute to this possible collapse. If the healthcare system collapses, everyone suffers. It’s teamwork.” Lindsay, Sydney

“It’s more about protecting yourself than it is about protecting others and making it possible for young people to take advantage of the opportunities we have to study, travel and work abroad. And it’s the only thing we as individuals can really contribute to ending the crisis.” Jane, Melbourne

“I want young people and casual workers in the hospitality and retail industries not to have to worry about paying rent or living because of the quarantine. I want my friends who work in hospitals and the police to be protected from the virus and curfew-related violence at work. For those who are not on the front line, that’s all we can do to create a way out of this. We owe this to others who bear the brunt of epidemics and quarantines.” Anonymous, Canberra

‘Our lives will not return to normal until we are vaccinated.’

“The best thing to convince my mom was that until we were all vaccinated we would have no choice but to continue this frustrating and devastating cycle of quarantine.” Rachel, Melbourne

“They say they’ll get it when the borders open, so maybe the borders won’t open until we do.” Anonymous, Perth

“He won’t be able to visit relatives in aged care in the future and likely won’t be able to go back to restaurants, shows or travel once their vaccination passports kick in.” Anonymous, Melbourne

Empty Melbourne airport
‘I suggest that maybe the borders won’t open until we do’ [the vaccine]’ Photo: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

‘It’s important to listen’

“I always ask what their concerns are and relate my answer to that.” Claire, registered nurse (ICU) and vaccine, Melbourne

“I think the way you talk to loved ones and family members is more important than arguments. We had to have three or four serious talks with my father and it was very important to go slow as he was hesitant to engage with me. I said things very clearly like ‘I don’t want to judge or lecture you, I just want to understand where you are in all this’ or ‘tell me what you understand about vaccines’. I think this is incredibly important because most people who hesitate are scared and vulnerable and need our support and love, not our judgment.” Dale, nurse’s assistant, Victoria

“I often ask why they hesitate and we discuss the risks and benefits. Many people have no idea what a vaccine is, and I’m trying to explain it in simple terms. Sometimes they don’t even understand what the concept of ‘herd immunity’ is. I feel that understanding the subject and explaining it in simple terms removes a lot of misinformation that people face.” Brigitte Venczel, physiotherapist in aged care, Brisbane

“I think discussions with friends and family should be tailored to their specific concerns and hesitations and the situation where politics informs their position. While it was easier with my mother to balance the risks of the vaccine with the risks of Covid, it was not the same for the others. For example, my uncle was fed the diet of Sky News and News Corp, which consistently said it was not a problem, it was just the flu. I didn’t argue but reminded him of his vaccination passports and the sooner he gets vaccinated the sooner he can travel to Singapore for work. I gave an economic reason.” Rachel, Melbourne

‘Take it on a personal level’

“The most convincing thing I could do was get vaccinated myself.” Anonymous, Brisbane

“One of the strategies I used was to post a picture of me on Facebook doing my second shot and say how relieved I was to have gotten it.” Michael, Byron Bay

“Taking it on a personal level makes it a little more real and makes it hit the house. Using a ventilator is horrible and I tell them it feels like both choking and choking on your own secretions. Being admitted to the ICU is horrible, lonely and traumatic, dependent on machines and no visitors. All of these have a higher chance of having significant side effects from vaccination.” Anonymous doctor, Sydney

“A lot of people around me jumped on board when I decided to get vaccinated. I didn’t realize I had this effect. I’m the head of the family, so I think that’s to be expected. Get on board family heads of all ethnicities.” Anonymous retired registered nurse, NSW

‘We hadn’t thought of that’

“Until Covid, none of us really cared where the vaccines came from when vaccinating our kids or for traveling abroad.” Richard, GP, Noosaville

“The history of polio, smallpox, and flu vaccines protecting communities is another compelling argument.” Rob MuirLeichhardt

“My wife was shocked when her parents told her on the phone that they wouldn’t be vaccinated: ‘We’re not going anywhere, we’re not seeing anyone. ‘But what about my brother? He lives nearby and visits you often. He goes to work with dozens of other people. What about their children? They go to school with hundreds of children and teachers, and then they visit you.’ Oh, they said. We hadn’t thought of that.’” Anonymous, Engadine

“In the beginning, I was hesitant about the vaccine for quite some time. However, after my mom sent me a series of videos with questionable sources to back up her claims, I had a full 180. I didn’t want to be on the same side as my mom and the crazy people she was following. In fact, he forced me to get vaccinated the next day.” TJ, teacher, Blacktown

Contributions have been edited for length and clarity.

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