I want to help my friends overcome vaccine hesitancy. How do I give a strong vaccine recommendation?

Uncertainty and Misinformation Vaccines

A: Give a strong, clear, favorable recommendation; be persistent; listen with empathy; address concerns; and keep the door open to keep talking about it!

Receiving a strong recommendation in favor of vaccination from a trusted source is one of the most important reasons someone accepts immunization. Each of us can be that trusted source for our family and friends. There are a few tips to make this easier and more successful:

➡Make it super clear that you are recommending they get vaccinated. It can be as simple as “I strongly recommend you get the COVID-19 vaccine.”

➡Don’t expect a fight. Most people are not truly resistant to immunization, but want clarification, information, and reassurance. You can provide that!

➡Seek to understand their concerns. Don’t jump in before they finish and don’t judge. Ask open ended questions to help you understand. What are they worried about? What questions do they have?

➡Listen with empathy. It’s normal to feel scared or have questions. Acknowledge and validate their emotions and experience.

➡Ask permission to share information and your perspective. Maybe now isn’t the right time for them to get new information. That’s ok. Try again later.

➡If they say it is ok, share your experience with vaccination and why you got vaccinated. Direct them to good resources about vaccines (see below!).

➡Help them find their “why.” How does vaccination help them achieve their goals or their values? Do they want to protect grandma? Do they want to be able to travel?

➡If they say, “Yes! I want a vaccine!” Great! But your job isn’t done yet. Help them actually get the vaccine by helping to find a vaccination site, offer to go with them for support, cheer them on and check in after!

Another strategy is called the SHARE method.

S: Share tailored reasons why the vaccine is recommended for that person.

H: Highlight positive experiences of vaccination.

A: Address concerns and questions.

R: Remind folks that vaccines protect themselves and their loved ones.

E: Explain the potential dangers of getting the disease.

We know that having these conversations can be hard and uncomfortable, but they are REALLY important to help get everyone vaccinated. Don’t shy away from vaccine conversations but if the time isn’t right, that is ok. Leave the door open to discuss this later. Remind your friends and family that you care about them and you want the same thing: for everyone to be safe, happy, and healthy. Working from that common ground can make it easier, safer, and more satisfying for both people!

Stay safe. Stay sane. Let’s help each other through this.

Those Nerdy Girls

Vaccine Resources:

CDC FAQ about COVID-19 Vaccines

WHO COVID-19 Vaccines

AAFP COVID-19 Vaccine Education

AAP COVID-19 FAQs for Parents

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