How to Talk to People About Getting Vaccinated

As we mentioned in our earlier blog post, we really want you to put us out of business! Like so many people, we look forward to the day when we’ll be able to see the maskless smiles of our friends and family again, and we won’t have to check our pockets for a backup mask every time we leave the house.

One of the key things we can do to bring that long-awaited day closer is to get vaccinated. Now that the supply of vaccines is becoming more reliable and public health units are able to expand their rules for eligibility, vaccine roll-outs across Canada have picked up speed over the last few weeks, and as of May 18, 2021, almost 40% of our population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. 

If you’ve already had one or more vaccine doses, thank you for being part of the solution! Here are some more things you can do to help yourself and others:

  • Publicize it! Among certain demographics the “vaccine selfie” is everywhere these days, and it can serve as a good reminder and a light, positive form of peer pressure for your friends to follow your lead. Or even if it doesn’t encourage hesitant friends to make a booking right away, it does identify you as someone they might be able to talk with if they have questions about your experience.
  • Help your friends find an appointment. While the roll-out is getting more efficient in some areas, in other places the changing rules and fluctuating vaccine ability can make it a bit confusing to know how to snag a coveted appointment. If your friends are willing to get vaccinated but having trouble finding a booking, you can share info on how you managed to get yours, or pass along tips from Vaccine Hunters and other groups that are helping to match available shots with people who want them.
  • Be realistic about side effects. At this point, most of us know someone who has been knocked out with flu-like symptoms for a day or two after their vaccine - or maybe we’ve experienced it ourselves. The “vaccine hangover” is real for many people, but it can be anticipated and managed - for example, by booking an appointment just ahead of a weekend, or making sure that all the parents and other childcare givers in a family don’t get their shots on the same day. If you’ve had a post-vaccine reaction, you can support your friends by showing how you dealt with it - and if you were one of the lucky ones who didn’t feel a thing, sharing that story can also help reassure people who are nervous about side effects.

If you’re still undecided about getting vaccinated, or if you want to encourage a friend or family member to do it, here are a few things to remember:

  • There are a lot of different myths and misconceptions out there about vaccines, and they change and shift a lot over time. If some of these are making you - or your friends and family - reluctant to get vaccinated, it’s important to understand what the underlying concern is, and then to look for trustworthy information that addresses those worries and questions. Look for trusted sites that are updated regularly and refer to the latest and most complete medical and public health information. Some good sources for busting vaccine-related myths include:
  • Yes, it can be confusing when the rules and “what we know about the science” keep changing. But that’s just the nature of science - we do the best we can with the information we have at the time, and then when new information becomes available we adapt and update things accordingly. News about the virus has been moving quickly, and so has our progress in fighting it. For up-to-date information about the Canadian situation, Health Canada has a comprehensive portal that outlines the latest infection and vaccination numbers, as well as guidance on how vaccination rates will influence plans to re-open businesses and activities. For the latest news and recommendations on a global level, the World Health Organization site has a wealth of current information.
  • Keep in mind that vaccination is one of the main strategies that will pull the world out of this pandemic. We do want to eventually reach a state of “herd immunity”, where the virus just isn’t able to spread anymore because a high enough proportion of the population is protected. And while some people will get their protection through previously being infected, we know that isn’t enough on its own - for every other disease where we’ve reached that level of immunity across the whole population (e.g., measles, mumps) it has been largely due to widespread vaccinations. In regions and settings where vaccines were rolled out early and comprehensively, such as the UK and in long-term care homes in Canada, we’re already seeing evidence that widespread vaccination can dramatically reduce rates of infection, hospitalization, and death. So even if you’re in a lower-risk group or feel that there are other reasons why it isn’t important for you to get vaccinated, it actually does make a difference in the much bigger picture - you’re protecting people beyond even your immediate friends, family, and contacts. And that means we all get back to a more “normal” world sooner!

What have your experiences been with vaccine hesitancy? Did you manage to convince your friends - or yourself - to get over your doubts and get vaccinated? If you’d like to continue this conversation on your own social media, please share this article!