Got a Vaccine-Skeptical Relative? Here’s How to Talk to Them

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TUESDAY, Feb. 23, 2021 — While more than 57 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States and many Americans eagerly await their turn to get a shot, not everyone wants one.

Vaccine skepticism isn’t new, but you may be able to persuade skeptical loved ones to change their minds.

“Some people are probably thinking still that COVID-19 is like flu where you’re sick for three or four days, and then you think you’re fine after that,” said Glen Nowak, director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication at the University of Georgia. “But research shows that many people’s symptoms persist for weeks or even months, with loss of taste and smell frequently one of the symptoms experienced by those with ‘mild’ illness.”

Key reasons for vaccine hesitancy are concerns about side effects, worry about the shot’s rapid development and wanting to see what happens as more shots are administered.

To counter concerns about side effects, Nowak suggested emphasizing that the risk of a bad reaction to the shot is low compared to the impact of getting COVID-19.

The most common reactions to the shot are sore arm, fever and feeling lousy a few days after vaccination. This pales in comparison to effects COVID-19 can have, which vary from mild to illness so severe it could land a person in the hospital, Nowak pointed out…

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