My uncle is legally in charge of medical decisions for my 98-year-old grandfather. He's also kind of an anti-vaxxer and seems skeptical about both the severity of COVID-19 itself and the safety of Grandpa getting the vaccine — even though he takes Grandpa to get his flu shot every year. Grandpa is physically healthy, but he doesn't really understand much of what's going on with the pandemic, or anything else. They both live across the country from me. How should I prepare for a conversation with my uncle about the importance of getting Grandpa vaccinated?
Vexed About Vax (female, 33)
Dear Vexed About Vax,
Your grandfather is a family treasure. Despite his reservations about COVID-19 and the vaccine, your uncle must understand that he's in charge of keeping that treasure safe. He can't be all that anti-vax if he brings your grandpa to get a flu shot every year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (cdc.gov) has tons of information concerning people at increased risk. Study up and be ready to confidently present the facts to your uncle. Remember that you catch more flies with sugar, so start the conversation by praising him for taking such great care of your granddad thus far.
Explain that even though the coronavirus and influenza are both viruses, COVID-19 is considerably more deadly, especially for the elderly. According to the CDC, eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been adults who were 65 or older, and the greatest risk of severe illness or death is among people age 85 or older.
Influenza has been around for millennia and causes tens of thousands of deaths each year. COVID-19 has been with us for only about a year and has already caused more than 2 million deaths worldwide.
Be sure to make it clear to your uncle that if he decides not to get the vaccine himself, he shouldn't be hanging out with your grandpa at all. I hope, after talking to you and your granddad's doctor, your uncle will be convinced to do the right thing.
Good luck and God bless,