How to start a conversation about the vaccine

Worried about having a conversation about COVID-19 and vaccines with friends and family? We’re here for you. Use these conversation starter ideas to kickstart a factual conversation about COVID-19.

Vaccines are helping to save thousands of lives across south east London. However, there are still some people who are unsure whether they want to access their COVID-19 vaccine. Sometimes this may be because they have questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines, and sometimes it is because they don’t see their friends and family accessing the vaccine and therefore feel nervous about accessing it themselves, or are exposed to inaccurate information circulating online which has convinced them not to access this life-saving vaccine.

Sometimes those people who are hesitant may be those closest to you, your friends or your family, and so having an honest fact-based conversation can help kickstart different thinking about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Ask open ended questions to start the conversation

Open ended questions are questions that don’t have a yes-or-no answer. Asking open ended questions can help you understand what your friend or family member is worried about, where they learned any troubling information, or what is stopping them from accessing the vaccine.

For example, you can ask, “How did watching that Facebook video make you feel? What did you do next?” or “What concerns do you have about the COVID-19 vaccines?

Be respectful and ask questions that help you understand why they are not sure about the vaccine. For example they might say, “I’m worried about the long term effects of the vaccine”. When we understand their concerns, we can help direct them to factual information from the NHS.

Ask if you can share information

Once your friend or family member shares their question or concern, ask if you can share some information, tell them where you get facts you trust and be careful not to push information on them.

Sometimes, sharing quick, accurate answers to common concerns your family or friends might have can go a long way toward moving someone from worry to confidence. If you don’t know the answer to their questions, consider offering to help look for information using trusted, fact-based sources.

You can find answers to common questions:

Be open that you want the vaccine

This can often be the most difficult part of the conversation, but it is important to share your wish to get the vaccine. It can help to give at least one reason or “because”, for example “I want to get vaccinated because I want to help stop any more school and class closures”. 

This is in part because sometimes people don’t want to access the vaccine because they do not see other people around them – their friends and family – accessing the vaccine themselves. By sharing you intend to – or have – accessed the vaccine, you can build confidence in those who might have concerns. When being open about your intention, don’t forget to share your reason why. This will help your loved one consider the benefits of the vaccination both for themselves and those they care about.