Nicole * just wants her parents to be vaccinated.
She says they also want to be protected from COVID-19, and they are eligible for AstraZeneca – but a mix of conspiracy theories and damning media reports about the very rare side effects of vaccines put them off.
So far, they have booked three vaccination appointments, to cancel later.
The first time was because Nicole’s mother was sick (so she couldn’t have had it anyway). The second was due to their fears about side effects and the third was due to Moderna’s endorsement.
“They wanted to wait,” explains Nicole.
Meanwhile, the family has been locked in Melbourne, with an increase in COVID cases.
Faced with this, Nicole struggled to cope with her parents’ decision to wait for vaccines they might never have access to.
She often got angry with them trying to help them move away from their hesitation.
In June 2021, 73% of Australians agreed or strongly agreed that they would get a COVID vaccine when it was available and recommended for them, up from 68% in May of this year, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics The data.
The main reasons people said they might not get the COVID vaccine were fears about potential side effects (52%) and the vaccine’s effectiveness (15%), which was the case for Nicole’s parents.
The good news is that having a conversation about immunization with someone like a parent, who knows and trusts you, can be effective in keeping them from hesitation.
That’s according to Jessica Kaufman, a researcher in the Vaccine Uptake Group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
The tricky part, says Dr. Kaufman, is making sure your conversations don’t turn into potentially dangerous arguments.
But how do you get there when the stakes are so high?
Really listen to your parents’ concerns
Before inviting your parents over for a chat, Holly Seale, an infectious disease social scientist at the School of Population Health at the University of New South Wales, recommends making sure you have the most recent knowledge on current vaccine recommendations.
From there, the two experts advise taking the time to listen to your parents’ concerns.
“Most of the people who are on the fence have [many] different concerns and some people might also believe in the misinformation, ”adds Dr. Kaufman.
“So if you ask them to share their concerns, to listen and to acknowledge, it is normal to have questions and it makes sense that they want to be reassured, it is a very big first step in making sure. that people don’t feel judged.
“And that makes them more receptive to information that you [later] to share.”
Share your motivation for getting stung
Dr Seale and Dr Kaufman recommend sharing your motivation for the next COVID vaccine.
And if you’ve already had one / both doses, they suggest talking about the booking experience, the real part of the sting, and what happened next.
“Be transparent about the side effects you had and when they went away,” says Dr. Kaufman.
From there, you can try to help them determine what their motivation is.
“If there is a social aspect of their life that they aren’t able to do at the moment, you can get the conversation to focus on how the vaccination will make this more likely to happen in the community. future, ”suggests Dr. Kaufman.
You can also try putting your parents in touch with other friends, relatives or community leaders who have been vaccinated, or report other people they know and respect who have been bitten, she says, adding that it could even be a vaccinated celebrity like Dolly Parton.
“You might say, I’m not telling you that you need to get the vaccine, but did you know that [insert person] been vaccinated last week? ‘”
Sometimes, she says, it’s a matter of “finding the right messenger.”
Gather the facts and the experts
The point of all of this is to get to a point where you can share knowledge with your parents that helps them address their concerns or understand why things they heard might be misinformation.
Dr Seale suggests that the best way to do this is to look at the Australian Government COVID-19 Vaccine Information together, instead of bombarding your parents with links to consume at their own pace.
If you’re not in the same physical space as them, this can happen during a video call, she adds.
If at this point you realize that your parents clung to any myths or misinformation, Dr Kaufman says the recommended way to debunk them is to “clearly state what the truth is and then explain why. the disinformation is false and why ”.
And if you don’t know the answer to something, Dr Seale says you should admit it and offer to seek it out together (again, using official sources).
If you still can’t find the answer, if your parents are living with underlying health problems, are worried about particular side effects, or if you just think it would help, the two experts say you might suggest going to a doctor’s appointment (if possible) to make sure they have all the facts.
If they’re not keen on the GP, Dr Seale says you can try going to the local pharmacist and asking similar questions.
If they decide to get stung, the two experts say you should be prepared to help them make an appointment and offer to go with them (again, where COVID restrictions allow).
What if none of this worked immediately?
Say your parents aren’t getting over their hesitation about getting vaccinated quickly enough for you, or even at all.
Then what ?
Dr Seale and Dr Kaufman say you should focus on the fact that you started the conversation.
It certainly didn’t happen for Nicole in one sitting. But it happened.
What worked for Nicole
She didn’t feel like she was making much progress with her parents’ reluctance until the Delta variant hit Australia.
“The narrative changed in the media at the time… and once that changed, they were like, ‘Oh, we probably need to get the vaccine quickly,” but they were still very confused, ”she said.
That’s when Nicole reiterated the risks of COVID.
“I said, ‘You know, people are dying of it. You have to get the vaccine, that’s really important.'”
She also told her parents about people they knew who were around the same age who had been vaccinated with AstraZeneca, and finally understood that the prospect of an end to the ongoing blockages was a motivation for them.
Her parents then visited their GP, who affirmed their choice to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine and explained them throughout the process.
It has taken months and Nicole thinks her parents will probably still feel “a lot of hesitation” when they finally present their guns for the jab.
But for now, they have assured him that they will not be withdrawing from their next date at AstraZeneca.
* Name changed for confidentiality reasons.
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