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At some point you’re bound to be asked the question or find yourself drawn into a conversation whether it be at a family dinner, a social gathering or in the workplace – are you pro or anti the covid 19 vaccination?

Firstly, let me put a disclaimer out there that I am not anti the Covid vaccination, and yes I personally have tested positive for COVID, thankfully not severe despite falling into the high risk category being asthmatic.

This article is about being able to see both perspectives and how to come out of a Covid vaccination conversation relatively unscathed.

If you have been keeping up to date on the latest news, you would’ve seen major corporates such as Discovery, Sanlam and Curro now making it a compulsory mandate for their employees to be vaccinated. This is causing huge debate as to how ethical this is, and whether this goes against people’s constitutional and human rights. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out on both a local and global scale.

Over the past few months, I’ve come across many people who have been caught up in these types of conversations, and don’t know how to handle the vaccination conversation without causing friction.

One person shared with me that they have a friend who went as far as saying, “If you haven’t had your vaccination yet, let me know so that I can unfriend you”, and doesn’t know how to handle this situation as they really respect this person, and don’t want to lose this friendship. It’s causing them a lot of stress and anxiety.

These conversations can end up causing arguments and a great divide among families and friends.

Some people have very strong beliefs that everyone should be vaccinated so that we can get to herd immunity. Others are hesitant because they don’t feel there is enough data available yet on the side-effects of the vaccine, and the extent to which natural immunity contributes to herd immunity.

Many people have real fears about contracting the virus. Potentially this may be because they have already experienced the very real loss of people they know or loved ones.

There may well be some truth to both these views, but does that mean we have the right to impose our views on each other?

Many people are afraid of contracting the virus because they believe they will die from it, which is a possibility, however, when looking at the actual stats, there is a much higher chance of recovery from the virus than death, but of course there are many factors one needs to take into account such as health and other risk factors.

I would put this conversation in the same category as pro- or anti- abortion and the death penalty. There is no right or wrong answer, and there is no pleasing everyone. It boils down to personal choice at the end of the day – whether that be based on your faith, religion, beliefs, medical or other reasons.

So just how do you handle a vaccination conversation like this?

Irrespective of what your views may be, here are some do’s and don’ts

Do:

  • Be open to hearing other people’s views and perspectives about the vaccination without trying to shut each other down.
  • Agree to disagree in a respectful way, neither view is right or wrong – it’s a personal choice.
  • Put down boundaries that work for you and your family and loved ones.
  • Share with others where you stand on the vaccination so that there is clarity on your perspective, and others know where they stand with you.
  • Take responsibility for keeping yourself safe with the basic protocols (mask, sanitise and physical distance) and that in the process, this contributes to protecting others too.
  • Make peace with your choice – it’s personal to you – and you don’t have to justify your choice to anyone else.

Don’t:

  • Try and impose your views on others, everyone has a right to their perspective.
  • Threaten people if they are choosing to vaccinate or not to vaccinate – it’s a personal choice
  • Feel guilty about the choice that you have made – it’s personal to you and you don’t have to justify that to anyone.
  • Hold grudges or resent others for their vaccination choices – it’s their constitutional and human right and their personal choice at the end of the day.
  • Judge people that have chosen to vaccinate or not vaccinate – it’s a personal choice
  • Argue with others about whether it’s their moral obligation or responsibility – everyone has a right to choose.
  • Try and reason with someone to try and convince them as to what they should do – it’s not your right to decide for anyone.

If you find yourself caught up in a vaccination conversation that you feel is getting out of control, you have every right to pause the conversation, or exclude yourself from the conversation to maintain some form of respect and peace between all parties involved.

You may even go as far as to declare the COVID vaccination a “no-go” topic of conversation as a way of respecting everyone’s views and choices and protect relationships in the process.

At the end of the day, if you are pro- or anti- the Covid 19 vaccination is a personal choice. Everyone has a right to their choice and what they do with their body. The most important thing we can do as a society is respect each other’s views while remaining human towards each other – perhaps it’s as simple as having a drink over it just like this Heineken documentary.

 

Paula Quinsee: Growth Mindset Catalyst specializing in creating healthy relationships at home and in the workplace to co-create a more human connected world and positively impact people’s lives. Paula is also a passionate advocate for mental health and Gender Based Violence, an international and Tedx speaker and author of two self-help guides: Embracing Conflict and Embracing No.