How to persuade the unvaccinated

Stay detached. Your emotions are not helpful. Don’t shame people who are unvaccinated, and don’t show your own anger. Make them feel safe around you and enter any conversation knowing you can stay reasoned, no matter what. If you’re not sure you can, table the talk for another time or format (see: put your thoughts in an email).

Make it their decision. Position getting the vaccine as a choice, rather than something the government is forcing them to do (it is not) — a choice to take a chance on the vaccine rather than on Covid. It is true that President Joe Biden recently announced new steps to get people vaccinated, including requiring federal government employees and on-site contractors to attest to their vaccination status, wear a mask if they are not and submit to weekly or twice weekly screening. But there is no government mandate for others. Perhaps you might appeal to their patriotic senses. That uncle driving around with the flag on the back of his truck? Surely he cares about his country and keeping his fellow Americans healthy and in their jobs!

Bribe them. It’s not as ridiculous as it may seem. An increasingly impatient Biden has suggested that states offer $100 vaccine incentives. There’s a reason to believe this approach could work — for him and for you. Some people aren’t getting vaccinated because they’re busy, misinformed and/or see it as not worth their time. Others are not because, simply put, they’re lazy or complacent. Maybe this is your 70-year-old father, or your 20-year-old stepdaughter. Offering to drive or accompany them to their appointment — and then rewarding them with something they’d appreciate, like lunch at their favorite restaurant or a book you think they’d enjoy — may seem like pandering, but it’s pandering with a purpose.

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