It doesn’t matter if you’ve changed your mind and now want to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Even if you’ve expressed your reluctance to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the past, changing your mind doesn’t make you a hypocrite, it just means your perspective has changed. Andriy Onufriyenko / Getty Images
  • If you have expressed reluctance to receive the COVID-19 vaccines but now feel different, you may change your mind.
  • Relying on new data and information about the virus and vaccines is a valid reason to get vaccinated.
  • Changing your mind doesn’t make you a hypocrite, but rather a person ready to evolve.

Everyone changes their minds about things they used to be passionate about.

And the changes around health and wellness are no different – meat eaters are going vegetarians, couch potatoes are finishing marathons, and yes, those who may have been hesitant to get a COVID shot- 19 in the past decide to be vaccinated.

But for some people who have changed their minds about the vaccine, it is not always easy to communicate their decision to others.

This was the case for Emily Richards in Arkansas. She was initially reluctant to get the vaccine because she wanted to wait for further medical studies on the COVID-19 virus and vaccines.

“I wanted more time and more information. I am not in a high risk group so I was not sure receiving the vaccine would be in my best interest rather than letting natural immunity handle the virus, ”she told Healthline .

However, after seeing several people she considers healthy contract the virus and experience lingering symptoms – such as loss of taste and smell, fatigue and coughing – she began to reassess.

This, together with the many studies that followed, which showed the vaccine to be effective and safe after millions of people received it, changed my mind. She got the shot in May 2021.

“I expressed my hesitation, but chose to have the most in-depth conversations and discuss my concerns with educated medical professionals, including my own doctor,” Richards said.

“I live in a condition that seems very different from the vaccine and [leans toward relying on] personal responsibility [in] prevent the spread of COVID, ”she added. “I did not post on social media or announce that I had received the vaccine. “

While changing your mind can make you uncomfortable with a decision that goes against your original worldview, it can also cause you to feel like you’re making an evolved and informed decision, says Deborah Serani, PsyD, psychologist and professor at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.

That’s how 42-year-old Amy Koenig, Illinois, feels about her change of heart.

As someone who prides themselves on being fit, eating healthy, and turning to natural remedies for minor ailments, aches and pains, she didn’t believe she or her family was at risk of serious illness. because of COVID-19.

“As teachers, administrators and nurses returned to school, a lot of information came to me from friends and family,” Koenig told Healthline. “A woman my age who I consider to be very fit and without a known medical problem was hospitalized for a few days and was given oxygen. ”

Although the woman has recovered, Koenig’s confidence in staying safe from the virus, especially the Delta variant, has waned.

“I had asthma as a child, and although I don’t have it now, my lungs will always remember this,” I am told. So if I get sick and it goes to my lungs, I might struggle more than anyone without that ‘lung memory’, ”she said. “[If] the Delta variant was so much more contagious and more likely to affect my children, could I be in a situation where I couldn’t take care of them properly? “

Koenig was vaccinated in August 2021.

She says she doesn’t care what people think of her decision. She thinks her choice means that she is curious, skeptical, analytical, patient, that she learns throughout her life, that she is conscientious and confident.

“I’m proud of it,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful to change your mind and empowering to know that you had a choice to make, that you used all the information you had to do so, and that new information is being gathered, you are in. able to reassess and make a change if necessary. “

Dr William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, says it’s human nature to be skeptical and ask questions.

“If the patients are met with resistance or skepticism, the first thing I do is recognize the validity of their skepticism… then they feel like I’ve heard them… Then I ask them to tell me what their concerns are. about the vaccine… and I provide them with information and offer more information when they are ready, ”Schaffner told Healthline.

Serani says changing your mind because you’ve read additional data or heard expert advice is a common experience, and people often think they may know more about a topic initially than they do. However, as they learn more, they realize that they don’t have all the information they need to make an informed decision.

This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

“This psychological experience is when you think you have the knowledge to make competent decisions about things, but you really don’t have that ability. Basically, the people who talk about vaccines, contagion, the science behind COVID-19, etc. When they just don’t, ”Serani said.

When people become aware of the Dunning-Kruger effect, they can see the experts as more competent than they are and turn to science and research to guide them in health decision-making, he said. she declared.

“I’ve often said, ‘I’m going to trust infectious disease specialists know more about vaccines than I do.’ I can change my mind and feel comfortable saying, “Maybe the decades that these experts have spent in medical schools, hospitals, laboratories, clinical field work and health centers. research is more valuable to leading health care than my few hours of wheelchair surfing, ”Serani mentioned.

Schaffner says that while data can influence people’s choices for getting vaccinated, hesitant people often need to feel comfortable with their decision.

“Information is the key. You need it. It is fundamental, but [psychologists] also tell us that information is often not enough to change behavior. You have to change not only the way people think about things, but also the way they feel, ”Schaffner said.

He says scientists, doctors and researchers have provided a lot of information proving the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, but he thinks they need to improve communication that makes people feel better when they receive the vaccine. .

“Much of your attitude is influenced by your social group. If you are a young person and the crowd you hang out with smokes, you can smoke even if you can go to school and take a biology test with the confidence that smoking is bad for your body and can cause cancer of the breast. lung. But socially you want to be part of the group, so you smoke, ”he said.

If you are considering getting the vaccine and that decision differs from that of your social group, Schaffner says one way to save face is to focus on new information.

“Delta changed everything. It gives people an intellectually consistent and emotionally safe way to use an exit ramp, ”he said.

He suggests saying something like, “I still strongly believe in individual decision making and personal freedom, but now things have changed so I think I will change my mind, exercise my individual decision making and get vaccinated.

“You don’t have to change your core philosophy or who you are. Now life has changed and so you will change, ”Schaffner said.

Serani agreed.

If pride and fear of what other people might think of you getting the shot keeps you from getting the shot, she says keep in mind that it’s a positive trait to be able to say “j ‘was wrong’ or ‘Oh, I’ changed my mind ‘or’ You know, I think that could be better for me. ‘

“Some very intelligent and educated people can get stuck in their beliefs about the world and cannot incorporate new information into their old ways of thinking. This rigid cognitive style of processing may cause them to be reluctant to align with what is touted as “best practice” for health, ”Serani said.

However, she adds that in order to evolve as a human being, you often have to check your prejudices and belief systems.

“The key is to put your own beliefs on hold while inviting other ways of thinking,” Serani said.

Emily Richards name changed to protect her identity.

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