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How to encourage vaccine-hesitant people to get their COVID shots

Four tips to boost confidence in COVID vaccines among friends, family members, co-workers and neighbours

 Do you know someone who is not sure if they’ll get a vaccine? Here are four tips to boost confidence in COVID vaccines among friends, family members, co-workers and neighbours.

 Empathize

If you want someone to take you seriously, you need to show them that you take them seriously, too. So whatever the concern—whether it’s blood clots or worries a vaccine could somehow mess with DNA—don’t laugh or roll your eyes. Instead, say that you understand the concern and it’s something you’ve looked into, or will look into for them. You can find plain-language FAQs on websites like immunize.ca, ottawapublichealth.ca, or unambiguous-science.com.

FEATURE: Changing the minds of the vaccine hesitant requires actually listening to them

Tailor your message

Evidence shows that messages tailored to the individual’s health situation are more likely to resonate. Is your friend pregnant? Tell her that you think the vaccine is especially important for her; when pregnant women get COVID, they’re as likely to be hospitalized as seniors 65 and up. Does your brother have a teenager? You can share that even though young people generally fare pretty well, in the U.S., dozens of teenagers with no underlying conditions have been hospitalized with COVID.

Offer practical help

Barriers can prevent people from getting their vaccines. A barrier might be a lack of comfort with technology. Or, someone might not have the time to take transit to a public health clinic. You can help by booking an appointment on a friend’s behalf or driving a neighbour to the pharmacy.

Be positive

 Evidence shows positive messages are especially effective. Just as vaccines have eliminated polio and prevented thousands of deaths from measles each year, they’re making COVID something that no longer affects people’s day-to-day lives—we’re already seeing concerts and sporting events in places like Israel and the US. Who doesn’t want to be part of making COVID history?