When Asking Someone’s Vaccination Status, “Keep It Civil And Respectful,” Experts Say | Vietcetera
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When Asking Someone’s Vaccination Status, “Keep It Civil And Respectful,” Experts Say

While the extremely contagious Delta variant of coronavirus is crippling several cities in the country, asking about vaccination status can be a lot more difficult than expected. 

When Asking Someone’s Vaccination Status, “Keep It Civil And Respectful”, Experts Say

With Vietnam’s 2% of fully vaccinated individuals and 18% having had their first doses, how do you really ask someone if they are vaccinated already? | Source: Vietcetera

As of the latest report from the Ministry of Health, Vietnam has administered a total of 17,647,535 doses of vaccine to its people, including expats, which is approximately 18% of the 98 million population. In addition, 1,922,313 people are fully vaccinated, or almost 2% of the total population.

The MoH also confirmed 10,811 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the national patient tally to 369,267. A little less than Monday’s count with 10,397.

These new cases include 14 imported ones and the 10,797 were detected in Ho Chi Minh City (4,627), Binh Duong (3,628), Dong Nai (799), Long An (393), Khanh Hoa (203), Dong Thap (162), Da Nang (153), Tay Ninh (105), Tien Giang (93), Can Tho (72), Ha Noi (66), Ba Ria-Vung Tau (64), Kien Giang (61), Binh Thuan (56), Soc Trang (42), An Giang (42), Nghe An (28), Phu Yen (24), Dak Lak (21), Binh Phuoc (20), Thua Thien-Hue (13), Ben Tre (12), Vinh Long (11), Quang Nam (11), Ha Tinh (10), Hau Giang (9), Quang Tri (9), Son La (9), Bac Lieu (7), Lang Son (7), Tra Vinh (6), Thanh Hoa (5), Lam Dong (5), Binh Dinh (5), Ninh Thuan (4), Gia Lai (3), Bac Ninh (3), Bac Giang (3), Quang Binh (2), Quang Ngai (1), Ha Nam (1), Hai Phong (1), and Ca Mau (1).

In the same report from the ministry, 7,663 patients recovered on Tuesday, giving Vietnam 162,279 recoveries. 

However, 348 fatalities were also recorded for the past 24 hours. The country’s death toll is now at 9,014, or 2.4% of the total infections.

How to ask someone’s vaccination status? 

While the extremely contagious Delta variant of coronavirus is crippling several cities in the country, asking family members or friends about their vaccination status — or their stand — can be a lot more difficult than expected. 

With Vietnam’s 2% of fully vaccinated individuals and 18% having had their first doses, how do you really ask someone if they are vaccinated already? What makes it more tricky is “that question” can damage personal and professional relationships if not asked the right way.

In an article released by The Wall Street Journal, they have detailed some suggestions from communication experts on approaching questions about vaccination status in different scenarios: at work, in social situations, and with extended family.

At work

When asking a coworker, it’s helpful to provide a reason for your question. Make clear that you’re not passing judgment but simply trying to learn and problem-solve, says Douglas Stone, co-author of “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most.”

Linguistics professor at Georgetown University and author of “That’s Not What I Meant! How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships” Deborah Tannen suggests saying something like: “By the way, I know quite a lot of people who aren’t vaccinated and I understand the reasons, but I would appreciate knowing. I’m trying to get a sense of who in the office is vaccinated to know where to have meetings, and whether to have people in my office.” Let people know you’re asking everybody, she says, and that the reason for the question is to determine how best to get the work done.

A professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management and author of “Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection” Dr. Marissa King suggests letting a co-worker know how the uncertainty affects you personally. Say, for instance: “I respect your choice, but when we don’t wear masks, it makes me feel unsafe and makes it difficult for me to get my work done.” Prepare yourself for an uncomfortable response, she recommends, and practice how you might reply to hostility. She suggests saying, “OK, thanks for letting me know,” and stepping away. “There may be other solutions available if you give more space and time to think about it,” she says.

Keep it civil and respectful, experts say. You likely need to maintain professional relationships with co-workers regardless of their status, and individual workers don’t have much sway over their environments. “You don’t have control,” Dr. King says.

In social situations

When the strict movement restrictions are lifted, we can all go back to meeting people. But it can get more sensitive when it comes to people we come in contact with, especially if they’re long-time friends and buddies. 

You can control who you socialize with, but the vaccination question has the potential to damage relationships as you determine who can and can’t attend a party, come to your house, or play with your kids, says Dr. Tannen.

You may want to soften the question by starting with “I know I’m being overly cautious...,” says Dr. Tannen. If you’re concerned about exposing an at-risk family member or elderly parent, explaining your worry may help defuse tension.

Leadership coach Deborah Riegel suggests introducing the question with a mix of vulnerability and humor: “ ‘I need to ask you something really awkward’…or ‘I need to ask you something that feels a little personal, so let me apologize in advance’…‘I promise I’m not going to ask your salary or did you get a face-lift,’ ” she says.

Emphasize that you value the relationship, regardless of the person’s vaccination status. That’s particularly true when it comes to assessing the safety of your children’s playdates.

With family

Now here’s the harder set, if not the hardest. 

Questions about vaccination can stir up power struggles in families. An email invite to a weekend visit to grandparents' house can clearly ask that everybody is vaccinated. What to do if a cousin replies that he’s not vaccinated but looks forward to attending? Do you, the host, tell him he can’t come? Or do all other family members need to decide differently?

“There are a lot of dynamics at play. Somebody could really hold the event hostage,” Ms. Riegel says.

Anticipate the different scenarios, make a plan for handling them and know it may not go smoothly. Accept that you may have to make a decision that will hurt someone’s feelings. “You may have to deal with a little bit of discomfort and backlash,” adds Ms. Riegel. “Just say, ‘I know everybody’s entitled to their own decisions and I’m not there to judge. I’m just here to make decisions for my family.’ ”

If the conversation goes awry, stop and pause. “If we don’t allow [conversations] to defuse, then repairing that conflict can take far, far longer than just taking the time to pause,” says Dr. King. 

Ms. Riegel suggests “noticing and naming neutrally” that the conversation has gotten off track with a comment like: “I noticed that we are talking about politics now rather than plans.” Then suggest taking a break and revisit when emotions have cooled.

However you decide to break the question on whether someone’s vaccinated or not, it’s important to remain respectful. Everyone has their own stand, and they have the right to be firm on their beliefs, as much as you do. Just keep it cool - what’s important is you don’t compromise your own health and safety.