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When talk turns to vaccines at Thanksgiving

A multigenerational family hugs on a couch

Nov. 22, 2021—When you gather with friends and family over the holidays, there's always a chance the conversation might turn toward COVID-19 vaccines. And you might hear things you know aren't true.

You might feel like clearing up any misconceptions because you care about your loved ones. But approaching the discussion the wrong way won't convince anyone. And who wants an argument at the holidays? If you choose to address misinformation, these tips from the U.S. Surgeon General may help you do so in a way that is helpful, not harmful:

Be a good listener. Remember: Your loved one likely has good intentions and believes what they have heard is true. You stand a better chance of changing minds when you try to understand why the other person feels the way they do. Rather than dismiss your loved one's concerns, you might ask: "What is it about the vaccine that worries you?"

Empathize. You could say something like, "I can understand why you might feel that way." At times we've all questioned what's false and what's true. If you've had a hard time getting the facts, let the person know you've been there too.

Avoid embarrassing anyone. Try to talk in private, not around the dinner table. Avoid sharing online memes or jokes that make fun of people who are hesitant about vaccines. Use a caring tone instead of shouting or saying things like, "You're wrong."

Suggest a solid source. Let the other person know that you realize that finding accurate information can be hard to do right now. And sometimes the advice we hear changes as new evidence emerges. That's to be expected with any new disease. You might encourage your loved one to check with someone they trust for advice. That might be their doctor or pharmacist. Or they might look for information from the local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Learn more about COVID-19

You can find answers to common questions in our Coronavirus health topic center.

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