How to Talk to Parents/Guardians About COVID-19 Vaccination for Their Children
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As a trusted messenger to parents/guardians at your school, you can play a role in their decision to vaccinate their children.
Many parents/guardians will have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. It is important to provide them a venue to ask them. Schools can take several actions to help answer these questions:
- Host an event in which parents/guardians can ask questions. Invite a local pediatrician or a state/local health official to participate.
- Host a social media town hall to encourage discussion about the vaccines.
- Email parents/guardians with answers to questions you are hearing frequently in the community.
- Add answers to questions you are hearing frequently in the community to your school newsletter.
COVID-19 vaccines are new, and it’s normal for people to have questions about them. The amount of information—and misinformation—about COVID-19 vaccines can be overwhelming to anyone.
You can help parents/guardians by:
- Listening without judgment.
- Identifying the root of their concern.
- Acknowledging their emotions so they know they have been heard.
For example, you can say, “It sounds like you are stressed at work and home. And concerns about the vaccine, especially for your young child, are another source of stress. That's really tough.”
Ask open-ended questions—meant to elicit more than a yes-or-no answer—to understand parents’/guardians’:
- Concerns about vaccination
- Where they learned any troubling information.
- What they have done to get answers to their questions.
For example, you can ask, “How did watching that news report make you feel? What did you do next?”
Do not be judgmental, and respectfully ask questions that help you understand their concerns.
For example, avoid disparaging statements like, “That’s a silly concern,” or “Why would you be worried about that?”
Get permission to share information
Once you understand parents’/guardians’ questions or concerns:
- Ask if you can provide some information.
- Tell them where you get information you trust.
- Be careful not to push information on them.
Reputable sources for answers to common questions about the vaccines include:
- The We Can Do This campaign website
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Your local health department
- Health care providers, such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.
Help them find their own reason to get vaccinated
Everyone who chooses to get their children vaccinated does so for a reason, such as to:
- Protect their family
- Protect their children
- Address their anxiety about COVID-19
- Visit their parents
- Get back to activities like seeing friends, resuming work, or returning to school.
After addressing parents’/guardians’ concerns with empathy, respect, and facts, steer the conversation from “why not” to the important reasons that matter to them—their “why.”
You may choose to share your reasons for getting your child vaccinated or discuss common goals you may have, like visiting with family and friends safely.
The reasons that someone may choose to get vaccinated will always be those that are most compelling to them personally.
Help make their vaccination happen
Once a parent/guardian decides on why their child should get vaccinated, help them commit to getting vaccinated. Help make the path to vaccination shorter, easier, and less stressful for them:
- Offer parents/guardians a list of local places that provide the COVID-19 vaccines to kids as young as 6 months.
- Tell parents/guardians to check out, vaccines.gov where they can search for nearby COVID-19 vaccine providers.
- Consider hosting a vaccination clinic at your school
Remember, every person who chooses to get vaccinated brings us all a step closer to moving past the COVID-19 pandemic.