Depolarizing Vaccine Conversations

At home, at work, and in virtual meeting spaces, Alaskans are tackling challenging conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine. Whether we're figuring out how to come back to the office, navigating childcare, or planning family gatherings, talking about vaccination arouses powerful feelings about our safety, our health, our freedom, our autonomy, and our responsibility to the communities we care for.

It's easy for conversations like these to become heated quickly.

Be Curious, Not Judgmental

Faulty assumptions and loaded words can push a relationship into a vicious cycle of defensiveness, mistrust, and hostility. Our private conversations repeat and reinforce our public discourse: some Alaskans attack “anti-vaxxers” who “don't believe in science” while other Alaskans feel that their concerns about the medical system and our government are being unfairly dismissed and mischaracterized. Still, other Alaskans are fearful about speaking up at all, worried that they could be labeled ignorant, naive, or evil if they say the wrong thing.

This state of affairs serves no one. It tears at the social fabric of our community without making us safer or healthier.

How do we do better?

These workshops will offer skills and concrete tools for depolarizing conversations about vaccines with coworkers, family members, friends, and acquaintances. The workshop is designed to meet people wherever they are, regardless of their position and beliefs about vaccines. The workshop does not push a particular position with regard to vaccines, but rather provides a toolkit for more constructive conversations. Workshops will cover:

  • Why we're hardwired for conflict
  • The difference between destructive and constructive cycles of conflict
  • How and why to redefine your goals for the conversation
  • Sample questions for better conversations

This project is conducted in partnership with the Alaska Children's Trust with funding from United Way and the Municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage Health Department. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Way of Anchorage or the Municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage Health Department.

Alaska Children’s Trust

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