The Vaccine Conversation and Relationships

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We have spent nearly 18 months with this new normal of adjusting our lifestyle and lives with the Covid 19 pandemic. We have experienced everything from seeing the world shut down, over 600K deaths in the US, and businesses closing temporarily and some businesses closing for good.

Wearing a mask went from being optional to mandatory and earlier this year, we even experienced a short period in which masks did not have to be worn…and then…the Covid 19 Delta Variant started spreading earlier this summer and hospitalizations have been increasing ever since. 

I will admit, last year I was a skeptic about the vaccine as I was uncertain about its effectiveness and yes, I thought it was being produced too quickly. Many others were in agreement with me and we all agreed that we would “wait and see” before we put ourselves out there to be vaccinated.

But, with encouragement from friends and family, and also as someone who survived cancer, I decided to get the vaccine as soon as I was able to do so and will more than likely get an additional dose when I can. 

My immediately family and many of my close friends are also fully vaccinated.

I am dating someone who is also fully vaccinated. So for me, outside of a few friends, there is no debate about the vaccine or continuing wearing a mask.

With the FDA approving the Pfizer vaccine it certainly should help boost the confidence for people who may be skeptical about the vaccine and it also opens the door for businesses to mandate that their employees get the vaccine. 

However, despite the changes and the spreading of the Delta Variant, I am hearing stories from my friends who are married or in committed relationships in which one or the other has concerns about getting the Covid-19 vaccine and the household is divided. It is especially challenging if children are involved and one person is adamant that the children remain unvaccinated.

I am also hearing stories from my friends who have young adult children who refuse to get the vaccine. The reasons are as follows:

1. No one knows if there are long term side effects to the vaccine.

2.  There is concern that the Covid-19 Vaccine can affect reproduction for women who desire to have children

3.  Many young people do not believe they are at risk for catching Covid-19.

4. Many young people are in relationships in which they feel social pressure from their significant other to not get the vaccine.

I am sure there are other reasons, but those are the main reasons I have been hearing.

So certainly, there are many people who are at a crossroads with their spouses or significant others as the Covid-19 vaccine is supposed to be a lifesaving vaccine in most instances. It is also certainly understandable that no one wants to “leave” their significant other over this either…can the getting vs not getting the vaccine be perceived as having a different religious philosophy or a different political stand? Well yes, but also no…it’s in my opinion, a totally different issue as it involves health, safety, and risk of spreading a deadly virus.

I’m not saying people should debate vaccines, but engaging openly is healthy as long as both parties agree to respect each other’s perspective.

Here are some considerations if you decide to have the “Vaccine Conversation”:

Meet Vaccine Hesitant People Where They Are: If you don’t think you can talk about the COVID vaccine without getting frustrated or dismissive with people who haven’t gotten one, it might be best not to bring it up at all, be considerate if someone is concerned about side effects from the vaccine.

Bring it Up at the Right Time: If you suspect someone in your life is hesitant about the COVID vaccine, one option is to simply ask them if they want to talk about it.

Ask Questions: Make it personal, talk about your experience, such as any side affects you had and what they were like. Instead of telling someone why you want them to get the vaccine, ask what questions they might have, and avoid judging their decision. Asking questions is a positive way to engage people because it encourages them to think for themselves and possibly answer their own questions. If someone says they want to wait to see how the vaccine affects people who have gotten it, for example, maybe ask, “When would it be safe?” or “How many would have to get it before you decide it’s safe for you and your family?”

It could be a way to engage someone to come to terms with what the real obstacle is for them.

Listen to and Acknowledge Their Specific Concerns: Just saying, ‘I hear you, it’s hard to know what to believe,’ helps a person feel heard. We’ve become so polarized that we’re often not hearing each other. So saying, ‘I hear you, tell me more about what your concerns are,’ might not change someone’s mind, but it’s a start.

Keep It Positive: Share your own story and why you made your decision. Ask if you can trade news articles and links, so their concerns are heard and you’ve shared resources to help them.

Suggest They Talk to Someone Else They Trust: The messenger is as important as the message, don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately change hearts and minds. It’s typically not a one and done conversation, even for health care providers.

Lastly, no matter your vaccine status, please remember, this pandemic is far from over and we must all practice safety precautions by wearing masks, sanitizing, and being respectful to one another.

We Are Still All In This Together,

Just Keeping it 100,

Stephanie

Picture Courtesy of @leahessence

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