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Talking to People Who Are Hesitant:

Talking to people who are hesitant or against vaccines can be challenging, but here are some tips to help you get started:​

  • Don't start by trying to convince them!

  • Instead, listen and ask questions. Try to find the source of their concerns or hesitancy.

  • Empathize with their concerns. 

    • Make sure they know you are taking them seriously and not judging them. 

    • Try mirroring their language. You could say something like "It seems like your main concern is ___." This approach helps people feel heard.

    • If they seem receptive to it, you can redirect them to information related to their concerns.

    • You could also say something like "I used to worry about that too, but then I saw/learned ______ (a certain article, piece of information, etc.) and it made me feel a lot better."​

  • Don't expect them to be convinced right away. This can take time, so make sure they know that you are happy to have more conversations with them. 

 

For a step-by-step guide, check out the Teens for Vaccines Against Covid Toolkit or this COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Handbook

For more information and strategies, Johns Hopkins University has a free online course called COVID Vaccine Ambassador Training: How to Talk to Parents. This course provides strategies for how to combat vaccine hesitancy by directing people to reliable sources and having empathetic and respectful conversations with them. The course takes about 2 hours to complete and you even get a certificate for completing it.

VAERS:

  • The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a surveillance system. It works by people reporting adverse events after vaccination and looking for trends.

  • What does adverse event mean?

    • An adverse event is a symptom or other event that occurred after vaccination.

    • It does not imply that the event was caused by vaccination.

  • Anyone can report an adverse event to VAERS, and the report does not require any evidence that the vaccine caused the adverse event. 

  • What VAERS can do:

    • VAERS is a great tool for monitoring trends.

    • If a lot of people start reporting a particular adverse event, it can inspire research about whether this link is causal (whether it is a side effect). ​

    • Sometimes these reports signal a real side effect caused by the vaccine. For example, in 1997, VAERS data was used to alter the polio vaccine schedule to reduce side effects. 

    • In addition, it was recently used to show the link between COVID-19 vaccination and myocarditis in adolescent males (research study here)

  • What VAERS cannot do:

    • VAERS alone cannot demonstrate that a vaccine caused a particular effect​. 

    • Events reported to VAERS do not have to be directly caused by vaccination. For example, if someone experiences a car accident after vaccination, that does not mean the vaccine caused the car accident. (VAERS car accident report here) 

For more informations about VAERS, click here and here