How do you ask someone if they got their COVID vaccine? Experts offer some tips

Simone Jasper
·3 min read

As states continue to vaccinate people against COVID-19, some Americans are catching up with friends and family members they haven’t seen in months.

But asking loved ones whether they’ve been vaccinated can be uncomfortable, especially if people in your circle don’t see eye to eye on getting their shots.

So, how do you talk to others about whether they’ve been vaccinated? Here are some tips for asking questions and having discussions with people who are hesitant about getting vaccines.

Starting the conversation

Before asking about someone’s COVID-19 vaccine status, you should keep in mind that you are asking for personal information, according to experts.

“I don’t think we should ever get to the point where you’re asking someone in the grocery store lines what their vaccination status is,” etiquette expert Elaine Swann told Prevention magazine. “This type of question is more reserved for individuals that you plan on spending time with.”

While you may want to know the answer for your own safety, officials say there’s still some risk of COVID-19 infection after your vaccination. Also, it’s important to remember vaccine access and underlying medical conditions can play a role in whether someone has gotten a shot, USA Today reported in April.

“There are a lot of beliefs and emotions tied into decision making, so know that whenever you ask about the decisions that others make, you are asking them to expose their inner workings,” Andreas Michaelides, chief of psychology for health company Noom, told the news outlet.

Some people are also hesitant about getting vaccinated, and speaking to a friend or relative can help, Stat reported in March. But if you’re pro-vaccine, it’s best to “pick your battles” and avoid conversations with people who are adamantly opposed, according to the news outlet.

During the discussion

When you’re ready to ask questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, experts recommend talking in private and speaking in a tone that makes loved ones feel comfortable.

“A way to do this while also softening the blow is to reveal your vaccination status first and then ask the other person how they feel about it or what their plans are,” Swann said, according to Prevention.

Another approach is to start by explaining your own boundaries during the coronavirus pandemic in hopes that the person you tell will open up, multiple news outlets reported.

If you’re planning to ask a hairstylist or another person outside your inner circle, you may want to take a more direct approach with: “‘Are you vaccinated?’” Lynn F. Bufka of the American Psychological Association told USA Today.

During your discussion about COVID-19 vaccines, it’s best to ask open-ended questions and pay attention to the other person’s responses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The sheer amount of information — and misinformation — about COVID-19 vaccines can be overwhelming to anyone,” the CDC said on its website. “You can help by listening without (judgment) and identifying the root of their concerns.”

To help people sort through the vaccine rollout, the federal agency recommends asking if someone is receptive to receiving more details from a trusted source, such as a doctor or health department.

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