Once you have identified the mindsets that are driving a family’s decision-making, select one to target for change. This chart can help to guide your response.
When families indicate that they are willing to vaccinate their children, help them make or enact a plan to get it done.
Remember to stay positive and keep demonstrating that you are caring and trustworthy. Return to a technique for trust-building if you sense their engagement—or your empathy—starting to slip.
Family Mindset #1
“The disease isn’t a big deal.”
Make the issue time sensitive by talking about how now is the right time to equip children’s bodies with what they need to attack the COVID-19 virus.
With the family’s permission, share more information. Say that we don’t yet fully understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 on children’s developing brains, hearts, and lungs. Let them know that medical experts recommend immunization because it equips their child’s immune system to spring into action quickly to protect the developing brain and body.
Tap into other motivations, like protecting older family members.
Don’t try to scare people into getting the vaccine by painting worst-case scenarios of the risks of COVID-19.
Don’t leave the impression that you believe the family hasn’t prioritized the right things.
Family Mindset #2
“I don’t trust ‘them.’”
Position yourself as a trusted messenger and source of valued information (see “Building Trust in the Moment”).
Follow the family’s lead. Respond empathetically if they raise historical examples of racism, government overreach, or corporate malfeasance, but don’t bring them up yourself.
With the family’s permission, share the information that scientists have been working on messenger-type vaccines for decades.
Don’t imply or try to “prove” that people shouldn’t be concerned about racism or government power as they consider the vaccine for their children.
Family Mindset #3
“I am the gatekeeper for my child’s body.”
Affirm parents for being concerned about their child’s health and safety.
Emphasize that when the vaccine sends its message, it creates a smarter and stronger immune system.
Avoid a “just the facts” strategy. Facts alone will not overcome people’s deeply held beliefs about what constitutes a “natural” or “man-made” remedy.
Avoid the phrase “natural immune system.” This reinforces binary thinking about natural and artificial substances.
Family Mindset #4
“I need to protect my child from the vaccine.”
Emphasize that once the vaccine sends its message, it disappears from the body in days and leaves behind a smarter and stronger immune system.
Ask the parent what they see as the benefit of vaccines across history. Follow up on their answer by emphasizing that vaccines are one of the best examples of how people have worked together to protect ourselves from dangerous diseases.
Don’t ask parents to weigh the pros and cons of vaccination. The risks will always seem more tangible than the benefits.