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I think my friend is 'anti-vax.' Am I allowed to confront her?

"This is very shocking to me to say the least!"
Illustration of annoyed woman with another woman pushing a vaccine away
"She gets really defensive out of nowhere or goes silent."TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TMRW

Caroline Moss is an author and host of the podcast "Gee Thanks, Just Bought It," which helps people find the products they need to make life easier, better and more productive. Now with this column, "Asking for a Friend," she's helping people with the advice they need to make life easier, better and more productive. To submit a question for Caroline, click here.

Hi Caroline,

One of my friends is refusing to get the Covid-19 vaccine, which I think is pretty weird. She’s a very smart person, has a great job and family, married a great guy, has great kids, is very sweet and kind, but this is very shocking to me to say the least!

I will say that she doesn’t post stupid anti-vax content online, which is good, but when our friend group talks about anti-vaxxers or things we see posted on Instagram or Facebook, she gets really defensive out of nowhere or goes silent. When pressed, she says she doesn’t want the vaccine because she is thinking about getting pregnant with her third child soon and she doesn’t want the vaccine to throw her off. This is despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence suggesting that the vaccine has any effect on pregnancy.

Am I allowed to confront her on this? I think she is being an idiot.


Vaxxed and thankful for science

Hi Vaxxed and thankful,

You’re right: There is no evidence suggesting that the vaccine has any effect on pregnancy. That is 100% correct. I totally understand wanting to shake your bestie by the shoulders and tell her to snap out of it and get vaccinated for her health and safety. But your question — or at least the way you worded it — gives me pause!

It sounds like you are coming from a place of wanting to be right, not wanting to be helpful. In your question I don’t hear much concern for her wellness, I hear you wanting to outsmart your friend by knowing more and being smarter.

I have no doubt that if you were to reply to me right now you’d say, “Caroline, of course I am concerned about her health and wellness!” and I don’t doubt that’s true. But when it comes to how you plan on talking to her about this, the tone you use and the words you say are crucial. Want to get through to her? Calling her an "idiot" isn’t going to help.

I was thinking about this and there’s a difference, at least to me, between not getting the vaccine and keeping that information personal and private vs. sharing anti-vaccine propaganda online. Do I think everyone who's eligible should get the vaccine? Yes. Do I think someone who is spreading lies about it online is more dangerous than someone who doesn’t get the shot because they may have been exposed to misinformation or have other fears? Yes. Both aren't great, obviously. I wish your friend knew better, too.

Are you allowed to confront her? Yes. You’re allowed to do whatever you want! Though I strongly suggest that before you talk to her, ask yourself what you are hoping to get out of this conversation. Is it more about helping her see the information that shows her that she'll be safe if she gets the vaccine? Is the end goal knowing that she will get the Covid-19 vaccine? Or is it about being smarter, self-righteous and correct while she’s being “an idiot”? Choose carefully, because it is the best indicator of how this conversation could potentially go.

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