They say compassion is the key, and I understand that.

They say shaming gets us nowhere, and I agree.

In fact, I know it to be true in my own life: When I kept wearing my mask in public places, even after the mandate was lifted, even after I was fully vaccinated, a few people made fun of me.

I didn’t care because I was so sure I was doing the right thing for myself. The mockery (infrequent though it was) upset me but didn’t deter me from continuing to do what I felt was right.

So I get that no amount of hostility or teasing or public embarrassment will get people vaccinated if they don’t think it’s the right choice for them.

But I have to wonder … will anything work?

I have family members who don’t trust the vaccine, don’t trust the government, won’t put anything in their body that they don’t know enough about… and yet they smoke cigarettes, take illegal drugs, eat fast food for every meal. Their bodies aren’t temples; they just won’t take the vaccine.

They tell me it’s their choice. That I make my own choices and need to let them make theirs. “You’re pro-choice,” they say. “How can you be pro-choice for one thing but not another.”

The thing is, though, that their choice to remain maskless and unvaccinated does affect me in ways that abortions don’t affect the general public. The last time I dared to voice an opinion on reproductive matters publicly, a commenter promptly told me that I should go back in time and abort my own children, so I am hesitant to wade too far into this debate, but if you believe that abortion is ending a life, it’s still only ending one life. Someone choosing not to get vaccinated could potentially sicken and kill many people. One is personal; one is public. Getting a vaccine, to me, is the pro-life choice because it can save your life and others! They don’t see it that way.

I want to find a way to connect with my vaccine-hesitant family members, ideally to get them vaccinated but if nothing else to find common ground so we can at least have a conversation about it.

But there is such a weird disconnect between “I won’t take a vaccine that has been well-researched and already given to hundreds of millions of people worldwide” to “Let me Google how much livestock dewormer I should be taking daily” that I don’t feel like we’re dealing in logic anymore.

So I don’t even know where to start. If logic won’t work, I try emotion.

“I love you,” I try to say. “I want you to be safe.”

“We want that, too,” they say. “But Big Pharma is lying to you.”

“I don’t want you to die,” I say.

“I won’t die,” they say. “I trust my body. I have antibodies!”

“It’s so easy,” I say. “I can help you make an appointment right now!”

“No, thanks,” they say.

So I wait. And I worry. And I keep my distance. I don’t want to fight with them. I don’t want to talk to them. And I don’t want them to get me sick.

But even if they don’t end up sick from COVID, in many ways, I feel like I’ve already lost them during this pandemic.


Have you had any luck persuading your vaccine-resisting friends and family?