AUSTIN (KXAN) — As part of KXAN’s ‘Keep Austin Well’ town hall, we received a number of questions about vaccine hesitancy. Some of the most common questions were about personal health, others about convincing an unvaccinated family member to get their shot.
One Austin mom, who wanted to remain anonymous, is trying to find ways to convince her kids, in their 40’s, to get vaccinated. She has not seen her son, who lives out of state, in nearly two years. Her daughter lives here in Austin.
“She just feels like her immune system is good enough and she doesn’t really have to worry about it,” the mom said. “In the beginning I was just trying to convince her to keep us safe, but once we were able to get vaccinated now it’s really more for her safety.”
The Austin mom says she’s tried to have conversations with her kids in the past, but hasn’t gotten anywhere. Now, as Austin-Travis County moves to Stage 5 guidelines, which asks that you convince family and friends to get vaccinated, the mom is again looking for answers.
“They just don’t hear it,” she said. “I just pray that somebody can give me some language or some website or something that I can point them to really drive them home.”
Delta variant providing another push
Austin Public Health says its biggest message is, “choose a vaccine not a ventilator.” They’ve been pushing that message since vaccines became available earlier this year.
But now, specifically for young people, the delta variant may provide another opportunity to convince family and friends to get their shot. That’s already worked for many in our state.
In a news conference earlier this week, Texas health leaders said they’ve seen an increase in vaccine doses given over the last month. The seven-day moving average was roughly 43,000 doses a month ago. It was closer to 75,000 on Tuesday.
“I think it’s really important for everybody that’s unvaccinated to realize this, this is the most dangerous time to get COVID in this pandemic,” Dr. Ogechika Alozie, a member of the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force, said.
Having that conversation
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a number of suggestions for having constructive conversations with someone in your life who is unwilling to get vaccinated.
They recommend asking open-ended questions about the person’s concerns and truly listening. Is there a way to connect that person with their physician or a trusted love one that can address those concerns specifically?
“I think the primary thing is listen. Lead with listening first, understand their concerns and then have an open and honest conversation about the risk,” Dr. Alozie said.
The CDC also recommends helping that person find their “why” instead of their “why not.” Do they want to travel more easily, visit at-risk family? Help connect them to a reason to get vaccinated, instead of focusing on why they shouldn’t.
Where to get vaccinated
The CDC recommends helping family members and friends follow through with getting their vaccine, should they agree to one.
In Austin-Travis County, there are many ways to get started — from the various testing centers, to Austin FC games, to having someone come directly to you — the city and county have provided a variety of ways to get your shot.
You can make an appointment online, or walk up to an APH site without one.