Have You Been Vaccinated?

May 18, 2021

living, wellness

HAVE YOU BEEN VACCINATED?
The New Question Everyone’s Asking & How to Navigate It
BY NEVA FORRESTER 

This piece is not about whether or not you’ve decided to get vaccinated; rather, it serves as a guide for those that may be struggling with this new topic of conversation.

Have you been vaccinated?” has turned into the world’s newest conversation starter, but is this inadvertently making some people uncomfortable? Most of us couldn’t imagine asking the cashier at our local grocer when they last gave a stool sample was or whether they’re current on their HPV shots. Yet, this new inquiry has surprisingly made it into everyday conversations with ease. 

Many of us have never experienced a global health scare of this magnitude, and, understandably, current issues would near the top of the list for popular discussion. But is this particular question appropriate? 

This makes me uncomfortable – how do I respond?

Whether you choose to vaccinate or not is entirely up to you. Also is the decision to divulge (or not) your injection status. A quick social media poll revealed that most people experience fear and anxiety around this conversation. Many expressed that they feel it’s an invasion of privacy. From fears of judgment to unfair character assumptions, most poll participants unanimously answered that the question feels loaded.

While you do have rights over your personal health information as collected by your health providers and insurers through HIPAA, no law prohibits your employer or anyone walking down the street from asking you about it, even if you find it to be a bit distasteful.

If you do find yourself on the receiving end of this question and it makes you uncomfortable, choosing how to respond can add even more stress to the situation. With tensions at an all-time high, it can be effective to acknowledge their concern and assert your boundaries simultaneously. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

  • “I appreciate your concern about my health. I have a great healthcare team that takes really good care of me, and I prefer to keep these conversations limited to them. I hope you understand.”
  • “I’m not really comfortable discussing this, but I’d love to talk about something else.” Follow it up by asking them a question more geared toward a conversation you’re willing to have.
  • “That is so caring of you to ask. I prefer to keep my health information private, but I appreciate you checking in.”

These types of responses allow you to make it respectfully clear that this topic is off-limits for you, and they are generally met with an equal or similar disposition. You set the standard for how you are respected in any interaction, and the right people will understand that!

I’m just curious!

If you’ve been the inquisitor in this scenario, don’t feel bad! This topic is by no means barred completely. In fact, these can be very important, collective-shifting conversations to have. The key here is to know when and with whom to have it. Here are two important factors to consider before asking this question:

The Willingness of the Person/Energetic Awareness & Observation – Had this person openly discussed other personal medical information with you prior to COVID-19? Have you witnessed their body language or facial expressions when this topic is discussed among others? Have they previously expressed interest in discussing related topics openly? There’s a difference between having a conversation and forcing one. Be observant of the energy people are offering to you and navigate accordingly. 

Environment – Someone who may be receptive and willing to have this conversation with you may not be willing to share this information with others nearby. Asking this question in a group setting can add another layer of pressure and anxiety, especially in environments like the workplace or public-serving businesses. If this person feels close enough to you to share with you, you can honor that best by respecting their privacy. 

With the overwhelming pressure we’re all experiencing, it’s almost inevitable that this question will continue to circulate. But while being respectful and intentional with our conversations, we can cultivate the safe environments needed to fuel our shift forward toward more growth, understanding, and togetherness. 

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