A healthcare provider talks to a patient after they receive a vaccination.You may be vaccinated but have friends, family members, coworkers, and others in your life who haven’t yet. It can feel frustrating as a person who is vaccinated to hear people are unwilling to get their shot, but with how rapidly the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, it’s natural for people to have fears and doubts about vaccines.

People might be hesitant to get vaccinated because of:

  • Concerns about vaccine safety because they were developed so quickly.
  • Concerns about vaccine effect on fertility or pregnancy.
  • Logistical conflicts, such as having multiple jobs, working hours that aren’t compatible with vaccination clinic hours, having to take off work or find childcare in order to get vaccinated.
  • Barriers with transportation to get vaccinated.
  • Not knowing the vaccine is free.
  • Concerns about immigration status.
  • Individual and systemic racism, including negative experiences in healthcare settings.
  • A history of testing and experimentation in communities of color, and in particular, in the black community.
  • Misinformation about the need to be vaccinated (for example, they had COVID in the past and think they don’t need vaccine or are young and healthy and think COVID won’t have a serious impact on them).

As a trusted person in someone’s life, you are the most valuable resource in encouraging them to get vaccinated.

This is a huge asset and can be a daunting one! Here are some ways to talk about the COVID-19 vaccines with someone who is hesitant:

  • Listen without judgment and offer kindness. For example, if they say, “I’m scared of the vaccine because it was developed so quickly,” a compassionate way to respond is, “It’s normal to have doubts about things that are new! What would make you feel better about the vaccine? What scares you exactly?” This opens a dialog that lets the loved one know they’re being heard without judgment or a lecture.
  • Validate their fears and offer to share more information. This is a great way to build trust without someone shutting down. Say things like, “That scared me too, but I learned more about the process and that reassured me. Can I tell you more about what I learned?”
  • Share your personal story. Even though people have different reasons for choosing to be vaccinated, there is a power in sharing personal stories. For example, “My uncle was young and healthy and still got really sick from COVID-19. I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I got my vaccine when I became eligible.” Others might feel compelled by your motivation to get the vaccine.

Tools to Help Guide You

Success! Your friend or loved one is ready to get vaccinated! Now what?

  • Visit our vaccination page for options for where to get vaccinated, including pop-up clinics that are happening throughout Dane County.
  • Offer support as needed. Does the loved one need a ride to the vaccination site? A reminder of when a pop-up clinic is happening? Assistance making an online appointment? Help get them to the finish line. Keep in mind we offer free rides to testing at our South Park Street location! Call (608) 243-0420 to schedule a ride.
  • Celebrate! These conversations aren’t easy, and you’ve done the work to help keep your loved ones and community safe.
This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Public Health Madison & Dane County and a link back to the original post.