Vaccine divide causing strife in some Manitoba families, friend groups

Click to play video: 'Pandemic dividing some families'
Pandemic dividing some families
"Looking at decreasing that shame and judgement around it, and avoiding lecturing. Maintaining respect despite choices." Therapist and Thrive Counselling owner Sandra Scott says she's seeing more families divided by opinions around the pandemic – Jul 7, 2021

Some Manitobans say the choice to become vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus is causing a divide in their families.

Emily, whose name has been changed to protect her and her family’s privacy, said despite being fully vaccinated, she is dealing with friends and family who are unwilling.

It’s been ‘shocking’ to discover family members who are against all vaccines in general, she said.

“I’ve always assumed that everyone in my family was fully vaccinated from everything and I’m learning now that that’s not the case,” she said.

“That scares me, that people are listening to strangers instead of medical professionals.”

Click to play video: 'Answering your COVID-19 questions, July 8'
Answering your COVID-19 questions, July 8

As a result, Emily said it has affected some of her relationships as she’s not ready to visit those who choose not to be vaccinated, unless they can’t for medical reasons.

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“There’s been a lot of falling outs, already. I don’t see a great relationship with them anymore. And it’s sad that it took a worldwide pandemic to do this, but for me it’s not just a flu, this is a sickly virus that I have watched people almost die from,” she said.

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Those with medical reasons, Emily said she plans to continue to follow the basic guidelines – wash her hands, wear masks and stay socially distanced.

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According to a recent Ispos Poll, nearly 20 per cent of Canadians are vaccine-hesitant, with one in 10 saying they will not get the shot.

Winnipeg counsellor Sandra Scott said this issue is currently front and centre at her practice.

There are two major things people need to consider when talking about vaccination, she said.

First, Scott said the key was to be understanding instead of judging or shaming others.

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“It could be associated with needle phobia. It could be associated with anxiety, there could be an underlying medical condition. There’s such a spectrum of reasons why vaccinations might not be happening,” she said, adding negative reactions are likely to build up resistance rather than start meaningful discussions that could sway people.

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The second part Scott emphasized was personal morals.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba health official urges pregnant women to get COVID-19 vaccine'
Manitoba health official urges pregnant women to get COVID-19 vaccine

“(What) we can’t ignore is that this choice of vaccination or not, can become a little bit political. And so people are also looking at these relationships … and whether or not that is continuing to match with their values and philosophies.

“I would encourage people to ask themselves, is this a deal breaker? Is this something that cannot be moved through?”

Overall, Scott’s message was to focus on the relationship itself and not on people’s decisions about the vaccine.

“When we validate and we acknowledge, it doesn’t mean that we’re agreeing with them, but just that we’re hearing them and I think that’s really important when there’s something like this that’s going to divide people,” she said.

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Manitoba has already surpassed the August long weekend vaccination goal (75 per cent with their first dose and 50 per cent with their second dose) and a one-day ‘Vax-A-Thon’ is happening at all supersites next week for walk-in appointments.

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