I’m sure many of you read this title and felt like saying, “Really, Margaret, you think there’s good news about COVID now? Cases are spiking again, and at least 90% of them are the more contagious Delta variant. It was only yesterday that the CDC advised vaccinated people to go back to masking and distancing in large groups, etc. What’s more, at least a week or two before this, the World health Organization (WHO), as well as about a half dozen professional organizations of doctors who specialize in infectious disease had recommended masking around all unvaccinated people. Some of these authorities even urged masking around unvaccinated infants

I recently read the words of a doctor who had COVID-19 patients about to be intubated ask for the vaccine, when all he could do was hold their hands and say, “I’m sorry. It’s too late.” Their distraught relatives beg for the vaccine. “They tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t.”

Early today, I read an even worse ER doctor’s account of experiences in Florida:

Akhter said one patient he saw was in agony, but said she would rather die of COVID-19 than get the vaccine….”That was utterly ironic to say the least,” Akhter said. “To come to the ER looking for help, but refusing to get the most effective treatment possible, and really the only treatment, makes us at a loss for words.… We have basically a miracle drug, we have something that can prevent the infection and, especially, prevent severe infection and yet people refuse to get it. They come in begging for help, but also refusing the vaccine. It’s utterly ironic. It’s, quite frankly, anger-inducing. And, honestly, it backs up care for everybody else who is trying to do the right thing….” [1]

I was unpleasantly amazed.

Shortly after that, however, I read another article about a study concerning what causes people who were reluctant to take the vaccine to change their minds. [2] That’s where the good news started. I encourage you all to read the entire article, but for now, the most persuasive influences on unvaccinated people were the examples and encouragement of family members, the advice of their own doctors, and recent public pro-vaccine statements by Republicans and other conservatives.

As the Persuasion Coach, I realized that the influence of families and friends would work best if it could be manifested in a non-confrontational manner. The first person to whom I mentioned this told me two personal stories confirming it. First, she had spoken to her stepfather about getting vaccinated. Her approach had been to say that it would be good for her personally if he got vaccinated because she liked him and wanted him to live longer. He got vaccinated. Second, she had recently had dinner with three other people, two of whom were vaccinated, and one who was not. The two vaccinated guests did not know that the third guest wasn’t vaccinated. In the course of the evening, they told a story about a man they knew who did not get vaccinated, nor did any of his family. Now, he is in the hospital with COVID-19, and all his children and grandchildren have contracted it. A day or so later, the unvaccinated guest told the hostess she had decided to get vaccinated.

So I got busy online looking for recent news about Republicans and other conservatives coming out in favor of vaccination. I learned that a number of them have done so recently. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who has long encouraged vaccination, is going to use some of his campaign funds to run PSA’s encouraging Kentuckians to get vaccinated. Other Republican leaders who have encouraged vaccination include: Rep. Steve Scalise, LA; The GOP Doctor’s Caucus; Rep. Ronny Jackson, TX; Rep. Elise Stefanik, NY. Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity has recently encouraged vaccination as well. And don’t forget that Donald Trump supported vaccine development, and in early May, he and his wife got vaccinated.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was to read this news because: ” ‘Having half the population vaccinated and half unvaccinated and unprotected — that is the exact experiment I would design if I were a devil and trying to design a vaccine-busting [mutated or variant] virus,’ said Dr. William Haseltine, a former Harvard Medical School professor who helped design treatments for HIV/AIDS.”

I hope this information will help you speak, in an encouraging and non-confrontational, i.e., persuasive, manner to your unvaccinated friends and family members. Here are links to two excellent articles dispelling common COVID misconceptions. The first of these articles, from the world renowned Methodist Hospital system in Houston, is more succinct, more true-or-false style, but it mentions one misconception not covered in the second article–there is no credible evidence that the vaccines can cause fertility problems in women: https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2021/mar/covid-19-vaccine-myths-debunked/?utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=hmh_cs_contenthub_072921&utm_content=vaccine_myths_cta_button The second article goes into greater detail about the reasons various misconceptions are untrue: https://mailchi.mp/politifact/we-fact-checked-10-common-claims-about-the-covid-19-vaccines?e=eb84acef4e

Be patient, people need time to think about new ideas before changing their minds. If they seem hesitant, you might suggest that they speak to their own doctors about COVID vaccines.

I’d love to hear about your results.


[1] https://mailchi.mp/poynter/j6nia65yzm?e=785683d120 

[2] https://mailchi.mp/poynter/31jppwkxtm?e=785683d120 Scroll down to “What Makes Vaccine Skeptics Change Their Minds?”