Planning on broaching the whole vaccine conversation with unvaccinated family members this Thanksgiving? Well, you're braver than we are, but advice has arrived for you from the Minnesota Department of Health.
The department issued a press release Tuesday evening that provides "tips and strategies for holiday COVID-19 vaccine conversations."
Not only that, it has taken out full-page newspaper ads in daily newspapers across the state explaining their tips for how Minnesotans can have "productive – rather than divisive – holiday gathering discussions."
We're not quite sure how this advice squares with MDH's other advice for Thanksgiving, which is that you should only congregate with family members if you're all vaccinated.
Nonetheless, perhaps anticipating (fairly) there will be the mixing of vaccinated and unvaccinated relatives on Turkey Day, the department issued "six simple suggestions" for how to broach the vaccination question this Thanksgiving.
- Start from a place of care
- Listen to concerns with empathy
- Use open-ended questions to explore opinions
- Ask permission to share information
- Help loved ones find reasons to get vaccinated through shared values
- Help make their vaccine happen (the Minnesota vaccine connector is here).
The delta variant has been causing another surge of COVID in Minnesota, and while waning vaccine immunity among those vaccinated earliest is contributing to that (prompting calls for people to get their boosters) there remain a significant number of Minnesotans who remain unvaccinated.
As of this week, 27.8% of Minnesotans over the age of 16 have not received their full vaccine series, with the greatest proportion of unvaccinated Minnesotans predominantly living in Greater Minnesota – where the death rate from COVID in recent months has also been higher.
The full page ads taken out by MDH will be in the Thanksgiving Day editions of the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Mankato Free Press, St. Cloud Times, Mesabi Tribune and Winona Daily News.
Gov. Tim Walz comments in the news release, saying families and friends should not "shy away from talking about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine," noting "your perspective and positive example might be what helps a reluctant family member or friend roll up their sleeves and get their shot."
If you're planning on having this conversation, Bring Me The News would advise you do it before the wine is uncorked ...