How to Ask About COVID-19 Vaccines and Masks


Posted by Yoko Kuramoto-Eidsmoe

Discussing vaccination statuses and mask-wearing with the person on the other side of a care relationship can be awkward these days, with a lot of emotions and politics caught up in the mix. But, there are some really important reasons to have this conversation, for people working  as care professionals and people who are seeking or receiving care services, as well as their family members. We care about the well-being of everyone involved in the care relationship and have suggestions that may help.  

There are many things to consider. One is to remember that older adults and people living with certain disabilities are often at greater risk for experiencing health problems if they become  infected with COVID-19. Here are a few tips on how to have a discussion about masks and COVID-19 vaccination status:

    • Ask if you can ask. Sometimes, being asked if the topic is OK is a good way to help the other person feel more comfortable with the discussion, rather than just asking the question. 
    • Try to be specific about the reason you are concerned if you think it will help the other person understand. You can say:
      • “I have Type 2 diabetes, so I am being extra careful about COVID-19. Would it be OK if I asked you about your vaccination status?” 
      • “My 95-year-old mother lives with me, so I’m worried about COVID-19. Can we talk about your vaccination status?” 
      • “I am very worried about COVID-19. May we talk about vaccination?”
  • If they say no, move forward as if their position is opposite yours. 
    • If you are uncomfortable spending time around someone with a different vaccination status, tell them that and keep looking for someone else to work with. 
    • If you do not mind being around them, as long as everyone wears masks and stays in well-ventilated areas as much as possible, you can set those ground rules before you get together in person. If they do not agree on those conditions, you can politely decline to give or receive care from them.
  • Try not to judge or lecture. The current political climate is heated. A lot of people are in the habit of debating both online and in person. While everyone has their reasons, remember, it is not your job to change their mind. Your goal is just to find out if this is someone you can have a care relationship with.
  • Stay warm and positive. If the other person becomes hostile or combative, try to avoid being drawn in and end the conversation. You can simply say, “Thank you for this discussion. I’m afraid this will not work for me. I hope you find the right fit.”

The whole idea here is to try to have a real conversation about mask wearing and vaccination status so that everyone can feel comfortable in the care relationship. We know these conversations can be hard.  

On your Carina profile or care job post, both care professionals and care seekers can indicate vaccination statuses in the text field. Under “Hobbies, Interests, Vaccination Status and Other Information” you can mention whether you are vaccinated for COVID-19 so that others can use this information during the matching process.  An email might start, “Hi! I see that you are in the same area as me, and we have both been vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Keeping Carina profiles updated is a good way to make sure everyone has the information they need for a successful care relationship, from Day One! 

This conversation does not have to be unpleasant when you approach it with kindness and care.  We hope these tips will help you communicate with honesty and respect.

Want more information?: If you are interested in learning more about vaccinations and masks, please see SEIU 775 Benefits Group’s COVID-19 information page

vaccine discussion


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