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Coronavirus conversation: Vaccine hesitancy and how to talk to skeptics


SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – With the delta variant of COVID-19 on the rise in parts of Louisiana, health experts say it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated and offering advice on how to have conversations that can be challenging with those who are skeptical.

Martha Whyte, Region 7 Director for the Louisiana Department of Health, says it can help to start by asking why they are uncomfortable with the vaccine.

“I think trying to elicit someone and why they don’t want to get the vaccine is a good place to start, so you can hear them and maybe acknowledge what those fears are and then maybe try to acknowledge what those fears are and maybe try to talk through them.”

Whyte says she has had conversations with friends and family and lets them know why it is important to her.

“Vaccination is really important to me, I want to be able to be around you and enjoy your company more openly,” Whyte said.

“They’re very safe vaccines,” Whyte said last week at a briefing held by research experts, medical professionals, and community leaders issuing an urgent warning as cases to surge across the state and in Northwest Louisiana.

“I had someone say, ‘It’s a risk-benefit analysis, Dr. Whyte. That’s why I’m not taking the vaccine.’ Well, no one’s died from this vaccine. Not in this state, no one has died from this vaccine. And we’ve had 610,000 people die in this country from the virus. Analyze that,” Whyte said, prompting applause from some of those attending the briefing. “That is a huge number of people dying versus zero dying from this vaccine.”

Local faith leader Bishop Larry L. Brandon is working to make sure his congregation is having the conversation about vaccination.

“I am a true shepherd and I believe in protecting the sheep, so much so that I am vaccinated. We’ve invited the health authorities to come to our church to provide free vaccinations for our citizens and that’s the message and even with our teenagers now, that they have vaccines for the teenagers, we encourage them to do so and we encourage  people to care to communicate and connect and that’s what we’ve been doing and sharing that if you really care for your family, you really care for your friends you’ll get vaccinated.”

Health officials believe whether you or a family member have the COVID-19 vaccine or not, the delta variant is a higher risk for everyone who encounters it.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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