The weekend is approaching, your fridge is full of cheese and you’re looking forward to holding a COVID-compliant picnic with other fully vaccinated adults that your local rules set out. But choose your guests wisely – only those who are fully vaccinated can attend, and fines apply for breaking the rules.
These new rules, which apply in New South Wales and Victoria, place the responsibility of police vaccination on individuals. Vaccine passports may eventually allow businesses to check people’s vaccination status upon entry, but there’s no app to scan before gathering for a picnic or home event.
So how can you find out who has vaccinated, and what do you do with that information?
How do you start a conversation?
Vaccination may seem like a loaded topic that you may not want to discuss if you can avoid it. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a mine. We can really take some tips from the field of sexual health about difficult personal topics.
First, try to talk about vaccinations before confirming plans with anyone and before telling others about plans. Once you’re already on a picnic, the stakes are much higher. You are more likely to either go with something that doesn’t feel right to you or end up in an argument.
Provide your own vaccination status first. you can say something like
FYI, I got my second dose last month. These new rules mean that everyone coming in will have to get vaccinated. Have you taken both doses? I want to make sure we are okay to move forward.
Keep the question casual. In these circumstances it’s reasonable to ask for the status of someone’s vaccinations – it’s not because you don’t trust the person.
What if the person says no?
Don’t jump to conclusions. Depending on your relationship with that person, you may want to find out more. When having a conversation about COVID-19 vaccines, start with an open mind and be prepared to listen.
Ask them if they want to talk about why they haven’t been vaccinated. Maybe they have specific concerns, maybe they’re waiting for an appointment, or maybe a different vaccine that’s available to them now.
Let them share all your concerns and try to answer or fix them before you jump in.
If they are up to it, you can help them weigh the risks and benefits of vaccines, share some facts about safety and effectiveness, or tell them what prompted you to get vaccinated. assured.
Talking about your own experience can help generalize vaccination.
The person you’re talking to might not be on the fence about the vaccine – they may be strongly opposed to it.
If so, your best strategy may be to establish your position and close the conversation. you can say:
OK, I don’t believe so. But either way, we have to follow the rules.
Arguing with people who strongly oppose vaccination is rarely – if ever – effective, and it can ruin your relationship.
While there are rules that exclude people without vaccination for some time, it is not necessary to cut someone out of their life because they have not been vaccinated.
As those rules are eased and we move from suppressing COVID-19 to living with COVID-19, we will need to re-examine our risk assessments.
Of course these decisions are individual, but if you and your family are fully vaccinated, the risk of catching COVID-19 is significantly reduced, especially in the outdoor environment.
If your children are very young who have not yet been vaccinated, the risks of COVID-19 are low except in certain circumstances, so you need to weigh the health risks against the social benefits.
Social exclusion leads to more conspiratorial thinking – in other words, cutting people off when they believe in conspiracy theories often leaves them going down the rabbit hole, untouched by alternative ideas.
You can make a more positive impact by keeping relationships within your limits and role modeling behaviors you believe in.
What about picnic?
If your friend is a little hesitant or strongly against getting the vaccine, your picnic with him or her will have to wait.
When you explain this, you may want to distance yourself from the rules. For example, you can say:
The New Testament Says… Unfortunately it seems we just can’t get together. This is only a temporary thing – we should all be able to get back to normal in a few more weeks.
You didn’t make the rules, but right now we are all living with them. If relevant, explain how important the relationship is.
From the outset, managing COVID-19 well requires us to seek evidence, follow public health orders, and, when we can choose, weigh the risks of an activity against the benefits.
For these sensitive social conversations about vaccines, masks and other measures, we will need to communicate carefully to connect with each other as safely as possible.