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Healthy Living: Discussing vaccine hesitancy with friends and family

Opening a dialogue can yield the best results.

Posted: Jun 1, 2021 12:44 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Vaccination rates across Oregon have slowed, renewing concerns about vaccine hesitancy. If you have a friend or loved one that is at risk but has reservations about getting the vaccine, the thought of encouraging them to get the shot can seem challenging. 

Oregon Medical Group physician's assistant Rebecca Reveal also works to educate the community about vaccines as a part of Boost Oregon. She said that approaching the conversation with the intent to convince a person to get the vaccine can backfire. Instead, opening a dialogue can yield the best results.

"It's normal for people to have questions. It's normal for folks to be hesitant. I want folks to have a chance to have a back and forth with me and ask questions," said Reveal. 

Dominating the talk can seem confrontational. According to Reveal, asking open-ended questions can help you find the root of their hesitancy.

"It comes down to trying to stay open to conversation and really normalize questions," she said.

Coming on too strong or leading off with fearful feelings about the health consequences of COVID-19 infection can cause some people to shut down.

"Blanket information isn't necessarily going to answer my friend or loved one's actual concern. It might put them into a position where they feel like, 'I can't hear that right now,'" said Reveal.

The ultimate goal should be to collaboratively help them find their individual reason for getting vaccinated like resolving anxieties, seeing family, or getting back to work.

"What is it that that person is really worried about, and finding some common ground," she said.

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