As the COVID-19 Vaccine becomes more readily available, it is more likely that you or a loved one will schedule an appointment to get one. While it is not required, it is highly suggested that elderly with underlying health conditions receive the vaccine. This includes many seniors who are diagnosed with dementia. As the time draws nearer for you to get vaccinated, here are some tips for talking about the COVID-19 vaccine.
1. Encourage Open Discussion
If you and your senior relatives have different opinions and feelings about the COVID-19 vaccine, certain strategies can help bridge communication gaps, address concerns, and invite discussion. The following active listening traits can enhance your conversation:
- Make sure your loved one knows that you have considered and understand their stance on getting the vaccine. Statements like “I understand your concerns” or “I know you’re uncertain” can be helpful in these discussions.
- Paraphrasing and asking for clarification is a great way to actively listen. Reiterating what your parent says shows you’re paying attention, and provides an opportunity to explain and clear up misunderstandings. Phrases like “It sounds like…” and “So, what I hear you saying…” can be effective openings to summarize a loved one’s points and further conversation.
- Asking questions. Seek to better understand your loved one’s point of view by asking specific questions such as “What about the vaccine concerns you?” This can deepen discussion and provide reassurance.
2. Discuss The Vaccine’s Efficacy
It’s widely understood that seniors are at increased risk for serious illness and death from the coronavirus, which is highly contagious.
According to the FDA, which ensures vaccine safety, the Moderna vaccine has a 94.1% efficacy rate. Meanwhile, the Pfizer vaccine boasts 95% efficacy.
It is ultimately every individual’s choice as to whether or not they choose to become vaccinated, however it is always best to be an informed decision maker.
3. Address Safety & Risk Concerns
Research suggests side effects of the vaccine are minimal, such as pain at the injection site or a low-grade fever. According to a study of 40 older adults published in the New England Journal of Medicine, no seniors reported adverse effects a month after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, early studies show that older adults may be at a lower risk of vaccine side effects when compared with younger people.
4. Rely On Trusted, Expert Sources
Avoid becoming overwhelmed by identifying one or a few credible, unbiased sources.
Seniors and their families can seek guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the World Health Organization (WHO). A trusted local medical institution may also be a good source.
5. Talk To Your Doctor
Every person who is considering the vaccine should talk to their doctor first. Sometimes, a personal outside perspective can provide much-needed information and counsel.
Not only can a doctor share medical expertise, but they can also ensure your loved one doesn’t have allergies to a COVID-19 vaccine ingredient or other health conditions that could increase their risk of vaccine side effects.
6. Consider The Social Benefits & Return To Normalcy
Getting vaccinated won’t instantly transport recipients to their pre-pandemic lifestyle. There won’t be an immediate “back to normal”. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults may have missed out on seeing family and friends and participating in countless activities. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can be a step toward returning to beloved hobbies and rebuilding in-person social connections.