GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Public Health Director Karin Carroll and the City of Gloucester wish to share tips and guidance with members of the community when talking to loved ones who may be hesitant or fearful about the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of Thursday, June 3, approximately 30% of Gloucester residents had still not received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As restrictions and mandates ease, City leaders are urgently asking all eligible residents to get the vaccine now that everyone age 12 and up is eligible to receive it. The vaccines have widespread availability at a variety of locations, including the state website, local pharmacies and through Gloucester’s participation in the Greater Cape Ann Community Collaborative.
“We’re still seeing a significant percentage of people in our community who haven’t gotten their vaccine yet, and we know that people are having conversations about the vaccine with their loved ones,” Director Carroll said. “If you’re concerned for a member of your family or a friend who hasn’t yet gotten their vaccine, we hope the following tips can help you have a respectful, productive conversation and identify their concerns and answer their questions.”
Many residents find themselves in families where some members have been vaccinated and others have hesitated.
“Public health officials continue to recommend vaccination to protect everyone from this disease,” Mayor Romeo Theken said. “We are grateful that so many people in our community have stepped up to get vaccinated which has resulted in lower cases across Gloucester, but we still have more work to do. We encourage everyone to have thoughtful, caring, and informed discussions with family and friends and to stay engaged with our public health teams across all levels.”
The Gloucester Health Department shares the following guidance from resources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response for those planning to talk to a loved one who is hesitant about getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Be empathetic and acknowledge their emotions. The vaccines are new, and there is a significant amount of misinformation being shared about them. As such, people have questions and concerns. Do not be judgemental.
- Ask open ended questions and be an active listener. This helps to identify their questions and concerns.
- Stay positive and focus on the benefits, like protecting one’s health, seeing loved ones again safelty, travel, and so on.
- Encourage family and friends who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet to talk to their own primary care provider if they have questions and concerns about the vaccine.
- Ask permission first, and then share helpful resources to answer questions or correct misinformation from reliable resources like the CDC, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health or the Gloucester Health Department.
- Everyone has the right to decide for themselves whether they want the vaccine or not. Respect the choices of your family and friends, and if they do not wish to talk to you about vaccination, do not press the topic.
- According to the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19. However, a small number of people who are fully vaccinated have gotten the virus when exposed. If this means you do not feel comfortable seeing an unvaccinated family member or friend in-person and/or need to set a boundary with them, the Gloucester Health Department advises communicating this early, clearly, and firmly, but also with sensitivity and compassion. Consider prioritizing outdoor visits and/or wearing masks around one another.
Local and regional vaccination opportunities and resources can be found through the following channels:
- Visit vaxfinder.mass.gov to view area vaccination locations and availability.
- Visit capeannclinic.com to view lists of vaccination opportunities local to the Cape Ann region. Clinics will be offered regularly in Rockport, Topsfield and Ipswich through the Greater Cape Ann Community Collaborative (GCACC).
- Call 211 to seek out an appointment if you do not have internet access.
- The state’s Homebound Vaccination program was expanded recently to offer in-home vaccination appointments to all eligible residents unable to get to a vaccine appointment. For more information, call 833-983-0485.
- Call 978-515-5255 to speak with a Medical Reserve Corps volunteer to find access to transportation to or from an appointment and assist those without internet access with appointments. The line is dedicated to supporting Gloucester residents.
- Residents are encouraged to contact their primary-care physicians and local pharmacies to inquire about vaccination opportunities.
- Children 12 and older became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine recently. Parents and guardians are encouraged to talk to their child’s primary-care provider about the vaccination and seek out vaccination opportunities