Gayle King is a strong proponent of COVID-19 vaccinations. And she isn’t going to make any exceptions to her pro-vaccine stance for unvaccinated loved ones come the holidays, she shared on CBS This Morning.
King talked about her frustrations with unvaccinated family members while conducting an interview with Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Dr. Fauci, I don’t know how many more times you can say to people, ‘Listen, it will save your life,’” King said during an exchange about the urgent push to get more Americans vaccinated—amid the rise of the delta variant and recent uptick in hospitalizations and deaths among unvaccinated people.
King revealed that she is laying down the law with family members who will not get vaccinated, and plans to forbid them from joining her for the Thanksgiving holiday this year. “I have this problem with some members of my own family, which I’m now going to ban for Thanksgiving vacation,” King said. “That’s how strongly I’m taking what you’re saying.”
Many Americans are likely facing a similar situation, given the large number of unvaccinated people in the U.S. right now. About 56% of people over age 12 are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while survey results vary, data indicates a significant portion of those who are not vaccinated do not plan to get vaccinated. (According to a June Gallup poll, 24% of all adults in the U.S. say they are not going to get vaccinated, for instance.)
Engaging with the vaccine-hesitant people in your life can be tough and frustrating. And while every conversation will look different, there are some basic tips that can make your efforts more productive—or at least go more smoothly. Generally speaking, vaccine activists and vaccine-hesitancy experts recommend approaching the conversation as a gentle and nonjudgemental inquiry into the person’s perspective, rather than an adversarial attempt to persuade them.
Because people often base decisions about health on emotions, start the conversation from a place of emotional connection and trust (explicitly stated upfront if need be). Instead of assuming you know the person’s specific concerns and beliefs, ask them open-ended questions to gather information. Listen to what they say with empathy, reserve judgment, and respond by mirroring their concerns. If you’d like to share information with them, ask if it’s okay first and then refer them to evidence-based sources.
Finally, exercise patience and know that this is an ongoing conversation. Keep the lines of communication open, and let them know you’re here to talk about it anytime. But it’s also totally fine to set firm boundaries—like King did—to protect yourself and your family when you need to.