As COVID-19-related protocols ramp back up in response to the aggressive delta variant, a public health expert has advice for folks who are losing patience with people who eschew wearing masks or resist vaccination.
“I would encourage compassion; I would encourage a little bit of patience,” said Elizabeth Stuart, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“We sometimes think about the quote, ‘unvaccinated’ as a monolith group, sort of people who could have been vaccinated and aren’t; and it’s important to have that compassion and realize that some of them have chosen not to be vaccinated, and [there can be] lots of different reasons for that,” she said.
Some people with certain medical conditions may have concerns about getting vaccinated.
“People with autoimmune conditions may receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, they should be aware that no data are currently available on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people with autoimmune conditions,” the CDC website said.
Some people might have access challenges, or may not yet be eligible because of their age. They might question the safety of something the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t fully approved but allows under Emergency Use Authorization. And some people may just be unsure about whether to do it.
“And those are the people, where maybe those who are vaccinated can reach out and encourage them and sort of tell their story and say, ‘Hey, I got vaccinated, and it’s been fine,'” Stuart said.
The COVID-19 situation seems to be constantly evolving and some folks are stressed out by having to stay on top of every little development and all the adjustments.
“I think it’s important to remember that the guidelines are evolving because the pandemic is evolving,” Stuart said. “I would want people to realize that we are in a better place than we were a year ago.”
Still, it’s understandable if folks are frustrated, and Stuart recommends continuing to monitor the mental health of friends and loved ones.
“Keeping an eye on whether your friends and family members are engaging in their daily activities in ways that are kind of normal for them is really important. And just being there reaching out, for example, to say ‘Hey, thinking of you,’ and engaging in those dialogs and having open conversations, if people do seem to be struggling, and being there for them for those conversations and helping, helping get through that,” Stuart said.
You can reach the crisis text line by texting “WORDS” to 741741, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number at 1-800-273-8255.
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WTOP’s Scott Gelman contributed to this report.