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Vaccine Second Thoughts - Side Effects



"My mother had some very minor side effects from her first COVID shot and now she wants to skip the second one. I believe she’s heard about more possible side effects and has decided to skip the second dose to avoid not feeling well. I’ve been trying to convince her that she should get the second shot, but I don’t seem to be making headway.

My mother doesn’t use the Internet and she gets her information from the local news. I often wonder if she is getting reliable information that helps her, or just snippets of fears that are out there circulating. 

What recommendations do you have for me to help convince mom she needs to get that second shot?" 



Your mother is not too far out of the ordinary on this issue. I’m not saying that most people aren’t going to get their second shot, but I am saying that most people may not understand why the second shot is necessary. 

Unless you work in health care and are reasonably well informed about how immunizations work, you might be applying false logic to second dosing. Just look at how many people don’t finish a bottle of antibiotics. As soon as they feel better, they quit taking it. Since it may work most of the time for them, they would see no reason to change this behavior. They haven’t latched onto the reasons for finishing the entire course. Drug-resistant bacteria may not be a concept that they understand or care about. It’s clearly a lack of knowledge, or a lack of caring, that causes the behavior.

The same can be said for obtaining the recommended dose of COVID vaccine. The first dose is believed to provide weak immunity to COVID, though after the second dose an individual will have strong immunity. That second dose, a booster dose, is believed to be the difference between being partially protected to being almost fully protected. I don’t think that anyone should take the risk of only being partially protected when full protection is available.   

People do make decisions about their health that puzzle health care clinicians. They make those decisions with incomplete knowledge and information. I suspect that your mother is doing that right now. Will you be able to convince her otherwise? I am not sure about that. Her past and current beliefs are driving her actions. 

Now about the side effects--only a small percentage have side effects from the vaccine. One estimate I heard was 10%. The side effects are mild, and not anything as severe as getting COVID, which could be life-threatening. 

The best you can do is provide your mother accurate information. Make sure the explanation is brief and something she can grasp, unless she’s a person who loves to dive into complex data.  Based on her belief about vaccinations, I am going to guess that short and sweet will be a good idea to start. Then, if she desires more info, you can search it out and provide it.

Another option is to ask her to seek her doctor’s recommendation. That would only be a good idea if she is a person that follows her doctor’s instructions.

Influencing others is a bit of an art, and you have your work cut out for you. I wish you success on this journey.  It is in your mother’s best interest, so do persist.


About this Post

Written By

Mary Haynor

RN / CEO - Emeritus

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