#IGOTVACCINATED

SUPPORTING
FRIENDS & FAMILY

LAST UPDATED: September 5, 2021

UNDERSTANDING
 
VACCINE HESITANCY

 

If you have been vaccinated, it is likely that you are already confident about the COVID-19 vaccines. You may want to help your friends, family, and loved ones become confident too, especially those who are still unsure about the vaccines. This resource will help you do just that! These tips will help you approach conversations about COVID-19 vaccination with care, empathy, and understanding in order to foster vaccine confidence.


Vaccine hesitancy is a state of being reluctant or unsure about getting a vaccine. Importantly, being hesitant about a vaccine is a state that can change and evolve; it is not a trait that is inherent to the individual. Vaccine hesitancy is also a spectrum; people can be more or less hesitant and can also move along the spectrum. The great thing about vaccine hesitancy is that it is possible to counteract it – by providing the facts about the vaccines and motivating people to get the shot. 

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Vaccine hesitancy can have many causes. The first and most obvious is the amount of misinformation and disinformation spreading about the vaccine. Second is an individual's experience with the healthcare system. People who have had negative healthcare experiences or whose communities have been harmed by the healthcare (and larger political) system may be justifiably skeptical of health information and vaccines. Thirdly, an individual’s personal and cultural understandings of health and healthcare can also impact their perception of vaccines. Finally, access to clear, easy-to-understand information about vaccines is essential to counteracting vaccine hesitancy and promoting vaccine confidence. That’s where you come in! We need people like you sharing why they trust the COVID-19 vaccines and what motivated them to get the shot.
 

It is important to prioritize empathy and respect when it comes to conversations about vaccines. Each person has unique experiences with health and our healthcare system, which means each person who is currently vaccine hesitant is vaccine hesitant for different reasons. Before you share information, it is important to listen and understand where someone’s skepticism or fear may be coming from.  

TIPS FOR 
PRODUCTIVE DIALOGUE

 

TIP 1 - Approach conversations with care


Individuals may be reached through compassionate connections with trusted or loved people in their lives. You can make progress by focusing on the love and trust that exists between yourself and close family and friends. Try using empathy and understanding as a way to connect with folks and the root cause of their beliefs. You can use open-ended questions (for example, “What are your concerns?” rather than yes/no questions) to explore your loved ones’ questions, beliefs or misunderstandings. When engaging in conversations to promote vaccine confidence, it’s important to cultivate an engaged, safe space that is free of judgement, which means you:

  • Avoid interrupting the person when speaking
  • Absorb what they are saying so you can carefully address their concerns in a respectful way
  • Be kind, considerate, and patient during the dialogue




TIP 2 - Avoid controlling language


Each person must decide for themselves to get vaccinated, and it is important that each person feels empowered to make this choice. Avoid using forceful and controlling language, such as “should”, “must”, and “need”. People may perceive these terms as threatening. Instead, use choice-enhancing language such as, “You are free to decide yourself. The choice is yours.”




TIP 3 - Remain positive!


Frame your conversation around the positive effects of being vaccinated while remaining non-judgemental.

  • “With more people getting vaccinated, the less people will be hospitalized and restrictions will ease. Things will get back to normal.”
  • “If you get vaccinated, we can hang out with the rest of our friends again, go to a patio safely and have fun!”




TIP 4 - Frame their influence


Reference the potential influence of the individual’s choice on friends, family, and loved ones.

  • “By getting the vaccine you're protecting our family and community”
  • “Aren’t you ready to hit up a place for food and drinks with the friend group? Getting the vaccine will let us get back to normal.”




TIP 5 - Share your story and knowledge


Using emotional and visual cues can be very powerful. Show your loved ones positive stories or photos of people’s joy when getting the vaccine. If you have received the vaccine, share your personal story: What helped you make that decision? What was your experience like? Don’t be afraid to share your road to vaccine confidence (even if it started off with hesitancy)! This can help your loved ones feel more comfortable sharing their concerns and worries with you. If you are comfortable, you may also share evidence-based information about the vaccines. Reading up on the vaccines using reliable sources will help you explain correct information to your loved ones. To get started, you can go through missINFORMED’s Vaccine Fundamentals and Common Myths & Misconceptions webpages. It may even be fun for you and your loved one to go through the pages and learn together!




TIP 6 - Find your messenger


Use trusted messengers to convey useful information. Trusted messengers are individuals that are influential in your community such as faith leaders, teachers, healthcare workers, community leaders, Indigenous Elders, Chiefs and/or Knowledge Keepers, advocacy group leaders, community organizers and champions, or scientists.





If you have any suggestions, feel free to email us at outreach@missinformed.ca

Educate your friends and family with these easily shareable resources and help inform them on the power and efficacy of vaccines. 

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