“Living Your Life Without Limits” is a foundation and Podcast created and hosted by Shannon Jackson, RN. Our Weekly recently conducted a virtual Q-and-A session regarding the pandemic with Jackson.

Q: As a healthcare professional, would you have something to say to people who have not yet been vaccinated?

A: “The first thing I do is listen to a person’s concern, about why they don’t want to be vaccinated. By doing that, I am acknowledging their concern and being empathetic at the same time. That allows me to ask if they’re willing to talk about their hesitancy and any ways in which I can provide clarification.

“There’s a lot of misinformation floating around about the vaccines. My goal is to guide people to legitimate sources and away from information they may read on social media or hear from other unvalidated sources. Then, I self-disclose that I have been fully vaccinated to offer legitimacy in my discussion. Next, I proceed to assure them, that the COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration have gone through the same steps and requirements as every other vaccine, thus meeting all safety standards to be administered; the research has proven that the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh the risk of not being vaccinated. I end with my personal story of my dear sweet mother, who died July 28, 2020 from COVID-19 in nine days of contracting the virus. If the vaccine had only been developed earlier, she would still be here.”

Q: The issue can tear some families apart—how can one convince their loved ones to take the shot?

A: “My husband and I both have been fully vaccinated. However, I understand many families are torn with the decision, thus causing a divide within the family. I recommend that each side participate in active listening and empathy for the other’s position. At the end of the day, once you have provided your loved one with accurate information regarding the benefits of receiving the vaccine, you must allow them to make their personal choice. Whatever they decide, love them through their decision, and do not allow a person’s decision to destroy the family bond.”

Q: What can one say besides the facts that have already been said?

A: “Besides providing all the information regarding the benefits of the vaccine, I do not think there is anything more you can say to convince a person who is dead set on not taking the vaccine, except for sharing a tragic story of someone who did not.”

Q: Why do people believe in conspiracy theories about the vaccine?

A: “This is the difficult part, because most people think misinformation just means something is fake, but there are a lot of ways that misinformation can take shape, because people who are against vaccine can be very convincing—they can take a quote, or a bit of misinformation, and isolate it without providing the full context of the information. However, in the African-American community, there is a lingering distrust of the medical system rooted in history, of the infamous U.S. study of syphilis that left Black men in Tuskegee, Ala., to suffer from the disease. Officially named the Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, the U.S. Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute, recruited hundreds of rural Black men in 1932. The study offered free meals and checkups, but never explained that participants would be human subjects in a study designed to withhold medical treatment. Unfortunately, there is so much false information that has spread, it is still difficult for some people to take the leap of faith and trust the government and healthcare system.”

Shannon Jackson is an RN (Registered Nurse), PHN (Public Health Nurse), CLC (Certified Life Coach), BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), MAOM (Master of Arts in Organizational Management).