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Talking about the Coronavirus vaccine: tips to listen, inform, and support

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How listening, sharing, and open communication help tackle difficult decisions

Across the country, we are starting to see staff (like direct support professionals) who support  people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) begin to take the vaccine. This is a big step forward in protecting individuals as well as the people they support and their own families.  Nevertheless many disability services organizations report a high number of staff are resistant to or outright refuse the vaccine.  This is not limited to our staff, it appears to be across the board in many settings. There may be many reasons for this. However, the key question is what we do about it to help people make the decision to protect themselves and all those around them. How can listening, sharing, and open communication support difficult decisions, including conversations around the Covid-19 vaccine?

Tackling difficult decisions starts with listening

First of all, leaders need to focus on listening.  Organizations are already making great strides to reach out to people. They seek to understand their concerns about the vaccine.  These feelings are very real and in fact shared by many – including people who ended up choosing to get vaccinated.  When it comes to making this decision, everyone is different. Some need stories from friends and coworkers. Some need encouragement. And some need factual information. 

Secondly, we can help people work through this decision in several ways.  Arkansas Support Network developed a wonderful video of a panel discussion with several of their staff talking about their honest and unscripted feelings. They shared this video with the rest of the staff. The panelists for the conversation were coworkers who others clearly looked up to as influencers. They were folks who shared the same concerns.

Meanwhile, other organizations are trying open hotlines to talk to people and support their well-being. They talk about people’s experiences who have taken the vaccine and wanted to share their story, and the overall results they are seeing. 

A tool to share genuine communication

Of course, Quillo’s goal is to help you in every way we can. This includes when it comes to addressing challenges like Covid-19.  Quillo continues to develop our own short videos on this topic as well. In fact these were some of the most-watched videos in all of 2020.  It will be a marathon to get the vaccine distributed, including staff, people with disabilities and their families. Quillo helps organizations focus on listening, sharing, and open communication to help tackle difficult decisions.

For more, check out “Our Covid-19 Stories,” a new website from the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry.  

The National Association of State Councils on Developmental Disabilities has a website in the works to consolidate information like this.  In the meantime, here are four video resources shared by providers and advocacy groups from around the country. Please contact us ([email protected]) if you have resources you would like to add to this list.

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