How a NYC Health physician persuades fellow healthcare workers to get vaccinated

Encouraging others to get vaccinated against COVID-19 requires compassionate, continuing conversations, Dr. Syra Madad, an infectious disease epidemiologist at NYC Health + Hospitals, wrote in a May 28 opinion piece for The New York Times.

Dr. Madad, who employs four home health aides for an ailing family member, said that only one of the aides signed up to get vaccinated when they became eligible. She decided not to require COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, as she believed hearing more about their concerns and talking with them about COVID-19 vaccines may convince them to eventually receive their shots.

"For those who regularly interact with health workers who are hesitant to get vaccinated, there’s a lot we can do as colleagues," she said. "Just asking questions like, 'The last year has been really hard for all of us. Do you want to talk about your experience and what you think about the Covid-19 vaccine?' can go a long way."

In Dr. Madad's conversations with her colleagues and family member's home health aides, some of the concerns they listed were a lack of trust in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, doubts about the vaccines' efficacy and worries about allergic reactions. She made sure to assure them that their concerns were valid before explaining why the benefits of getting vaccinated may outweigh the risks.

"There hasn’t been one specific moment that felt like a breakthrough in my conversations with the health aides at home or with my colleagues at work," Dr. Madad said. "I don’t know what ultimately changed their mind. But I know these conversations matter. Just because some people say they don’t want to get vaccinated now, it doesn’t mean they won’t do so later."


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