How can you convince COVID-19 vaccine skeptics to get the shot?

Posted at 10:55 AM, Aug 09, 2021

Millions of Americans say they won't get a COVID-19 vaccination despite rising case numbers and pleas from loved ones, health care workers and politicians. How can they be convinced?

Psychologist Dr. Stuart Bassman says personal relationships with strong foundations of trust and compassion are the best bet to change someone's mind.

Bassman said it's important to be understanding and patient about the fears of vaccine-hesitant people and understand how they arrived at their position.

He said many who are vaccine-hesitant turn to social media to seek out information confirming their existing emotional beliefs. That information may be tinged with anxiety over how quickly the vaccine was developed and approved.

Therefore, it's important to meet them on an emotional level. Facts and scientific evidence don't mean much if you can't compassionately address their feelings about the vaccine, which has been safely administered to hundreds of millions of people.

"Say to a family member, 'I know this is scary and frightening for you,'" Bassman said. "'I know you're afraid.'"

It's also important to be patient, he added. Relationships take time. Empathy is a must — even for a position that might find frustrating or hard to understand.

"Instead of trying to get the person to change, you can't do that," he said. "What you can do is imagine that you're with them in their fear."

This story was originally published by Jake Ryle on Scripps station WCPO in Cincinnati.