Refuting arguments of vaccination opponents

Vaccinations currently appear to be the only way to end the pandemic – to that extent, recognized experts agree. Still many people are skeptical about the vaccination. Debates are heated, and facts are often lost. That’s why it’s important to discuss the matter objectively. Here are some tips on how to refute arguments of vaccination opponents.

5 tips for engaging in discussions with anti-vaccinationists

  1. Take their fears seriously
  2. Be prepared
  3. Listen and ask questions
  4. Check sources
  5. Stay calm

Take their fears seriously

Many people lack understanding when dealing with skeptics. Patience and empathy are indispensable in such discussions. Rejecting vaccinations is not maliceious, but often based on misunderstanding and uncertainty. To condemn this from the outset only encourages stubbornness. Recognizing the fears and countering them objectively with provable information is important. They can only be eliminated by addressing the concerns of the other party.

Be prepared

It is helpful to deal with the topic in as much detail as possible in advance. One should be informed about the current factual situation with the help of reputable sources. The greater one’s own level of knowledge, the easier it is to discuss the issue. A precise presentation of the current facts usually has more impact on the other party than a blunt denying of their  views on vaccinating.

Listen and ask questions

Knowledge can never be taken for granted. Therefore it makes sense to ask open questions and to give the other person enough time to answer. “What makes you doubt vaccinations?” or “How do you think vaccination works?” are examples of such basic questions. On the one hand, this provides information about the other person’s level of knowledge, on the other hand, the other person may recognize their own lack of knowledge. They may become more receptive to new information and counterarguments.

Question sources and show understanding

Questioning the counterpart’s sources is often useful, especially when the arguments seem confused and implausible. False information spreads in many different ways and is often difficult to expose. If the other person refers to sources providing fake information, you should respond with understanding. Instead of saying, “How could you possibly believe that?” you could say, “If I had come across this information, I probably would have come to the same conclusion as you, however …”. Ideally, this makes the other person more likely to be open to trustworthy sources and spotting fake news about vaccinations.

Stay calm

Debates like the one about vaccination are often emotionally charged. Probably the most important thing is to avoid personal attacks on the other party. Stay calm and maintain your composure. It might be better to stop discussing the topic, if the situation gets out of hand.

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