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Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is important. Making sure you feel healthy and safe in your relationship is also important. So what can you do if your partner decides not to get vaccinated against COVID-19? And how do you tell them that you want them to get vaccinated? 

It may not be easy, but it’s important to be honest about how you feel while also respecting your partner's boundaries. Even though some places and jobs have vaccine requirements, some people are still choosing not to get vaccinated. So the best you can do is be real about your concerns, and share research from trustworthy sources that shows that these vaccines are safe and effective.

There are many reasons why someone might avoid getting the vaccine. Perhaps they’re not worried about getting COVID-19, they’re scared of side effects, or they’ve heard misinformation about vaccine safety. Listen to their reasons, and try to understand where they’re coming from — even if you don’t agree. Many people don’t trust vaccines in general or are skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine specifically. 

When you really like someone, talking about their personal health choices can feel awkward — especially when you’re not on the same page. It may help to focus on your concern for them and their health, as well as the health of others around them (including you). Try to avoid insults and criticism — instead, communicate clearly and respectfully, spelling out your concerns in a nonjudgmental and supportive way. 

Here are some ways to start the conversation:  

  • I trust you to make your own decisions, but I care about you and I'm worried about your health.

  • I’m scared of being exposed to COVID-19.

  • I want to be able to do things with you that may require being vaccinated, like traveling or going to concerts.

  • I lost a loved one to COVID-19, and I don’t want to lose you, too.

  • I’m feeling anxious about us going back to in-person work and being around a lot of people if you're unvaccinated. 

  • I’m worried about our elderly or immunocompromised loved ones getting sick, especially with the holidays coming up.

  • [Insert name] had COVID-19 and they got really sick — I don’t want that to happen to you.

  • We have contact with people who can’t get the vaccine (like young kids), and I feel like we have a responsibility to help protect them.

  • I can’t afford to get sick and miss work or not be able to take care of my kids, so it makes me nervous that you’re unvaccinated.

  • We have friends and family who are uncomfortable being around unvaccinated people, and I want us to be able to hang out with them.

It’s natural for people to have questions or concerns about vaccines, and there's A LOT of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine out there. So it may help to share truthful facts about COVID-19 and the vaccine, like:

You can also offer to help them find a site near them that offers vaccines, and provide transportation, child care, or other things they may need to be able to get the vaccine.  

Respecting each other’s personal choices is important, but your health and feelings are important too — and deciding not to get vaccinated can have serious consequences. If you tell your partner how you feel and they still won’t get the vaccine, you may have to make some tough decisions. It’s up to you to decide if this person is someone who shares your values and whether your relationship is healthy. Remember: You deserve to be with someone who cares about you and your health, as well as their own. 

Tags: covid-19, covid-19 vaccine, healthy relationships, vaccines