By now, you’ve no doubt stumbled into some of the disinformation that’s been festering away online about COVID and vaccinations. And perhaps you’ve wondered how to respond – especially when you come across folks in your own circles who express concerns about getting the jab. Well – wonder no more, dear readers, because we’ve put together some tips to help you talk to (and maybe even persuade) your vaccine-hesitant mates.
1. Don’t make unfair assumptions
So your friend hasn’t been vaccinated. That doesn’t mean they think that Covid is a hoax, or that they think Bill Gates is trying to inject them with microchips (and even if they do, try not to judge!)
Most people who haven’t been vaccinated have experienced some sort of barrier to accessing the vaccine, due to Scott Morrison’s “it’s not a race” stroll-out. For these folks, why not offer to watch their kids while they attend an appointment? Or help them call the Covid hotline to book an appointment that’s convenient?
Or if they have concerns about the vaccine, listen! Hear what they’re saying, and instead of berating or judging them for their beliefs, try to understand them, and help them understand why you have a different view. No judgement. Just workers helping workers.
2. Get personal
Upload a selfie to #VaxSolidarity and share your own reasons for getting vaccinated. A personal story cuts through fear and misinformation like nothing else. You’re normalising and humanising it – without being judgy.
You’ll be surprised. Seeing a face they know and trust endorsing the jab may be just the push someone needs.
3. Don’t proactively “myth-bust”
Weirdly, mythbusting can sometimes do more harm than good.
You might actually be exposing more people to a myth they haven’t heard! Trust us, there are a huge variety of myths about the vaccine out there.
So instead of circulating refutations to various claims, just leap from the front foot and say things that are true.
Eg; “Vaccines are our best shot at escaping continual lockdowns!”
“Vaccines are safe, effective and free”
“I got vaccinated, and now I am 30% sexier!”
4. Report the misinformation-bots
Report misinformation to the social media platform directly. Click to the right of a post on FB or Twitter to report it. This makes a difference if enough of us do it.
5. Disrupt the conversation
OK, so granted we’ve just warned against getting sucked into a vortex of mythbusting – that’s not to say you can’t engage on any level. If a mate posts misinformation, you probably won’t change their minds with your response, but you might at least burst the bubble of their online echo chamber. Here are a few approaches we’ve found have worked:
Back up a fact with your own personal experience.
Call out the agendas behind the misinformation. Name the person pedalling the lies and expose how they’re trying to manipulate us. EG: Clive Palmer is desperately trying to win votes by attempting to scare us all into…
Reiterate the values and beliefs you do share. That’ll help build a bridge between polarised positions, and lay down some middle ground for a meaningful exchange.
Be patient and stick with it
Contrary to the promise of the title, we can’t promise any of this will win you any new friends but it might help you inspire a vax-hesitant mate to turn their head a little, and see beyond their peripheral vision. Most people change their minds when they’ve had at least two or three conversations that challenge them. Allow them time to adjust their position and be patient.
If they do change their minds, encourage them to tell other people about why they did. That’s incredibly powerful – and could have life-saving ripple effects throughout their own communities.
Do you know someone who was initially hesitant, but changed their mind about getting the vax? If so, we’d love to talk to them for a series of digital stories we’re creating. Please put them in touch with staylor[a]vthc.org.au
Pssst… here are a few more good things…
Download our free handbook about this very topic, ‘Talkin’ bout my vaccination’
Learn more about keeping your workplace COVID-safe
Join our campaign for paid vaccination leave
And just in case you haven’t already, join your union!
How can you persuade people to get vaccinated? How can you respond to misinformation about COVID? Here are five tips to help persuade your mates to get the jab.