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Feeling weird to ask a co-worker about their vaccination status? Here are few ways to start a conversation

Surprisingly vaccination remains a hot topic and politicized issue in organizations, even in difficult times it is considered as if it is taboo.

For those returning to work, whether you are vaccinated or not, asking about vaccination for Covid-19 is a water cooler conversation.

Major companies have mandated that employees get vaccinated before returning to work. Other businesses are encouraging people to get vaccinated, but not enforcing it ⁠— leaving room for grey areas and misunderstandings.

Vaccination remains a hot-button and politicized issue that can make inquiring about someone’s inoculation awkward, particularly in the workplace. It is a hard conversation but we have to normalize it. otherwise, this grey area will keep on increasing.

Knowing who is and isn’t vaccinated for COVID-19 isn’t nosey ⁠— it’s necessary for your safety. We have to remember that this is not an individual problem, this is something that we face as a population, as a community as a workplace, as a school and as a family.

Entering a space where there is a mix of vaccinated and potentially unvaccinated people comes with risks, even for those who are vaccinated. Here are five conversation-starters that may help you open the door to talking about vaccination in the workplace:

I am vaccinated, however, I am going to keep masking as I do not know who is vaccinated or not?

bluntly asking coworkers about their vaccination status can create tension. Leading with your own vaccination status and explaining what other measures you’re going to take to stay safe, like wearing a mask or maintaining social distance.

if someone starts by sharing their experience on this particular topic, it allows the person in front of you to talk about their status as well. That said if someone declines to disclose their vaccination status or expresses that they’re uncomfortable doing so, it’s best to back off.

‘We’re sitting close here in our shared office. Do you mind if I ask if you’re vaccinated or not?’

Now, this is a direct approach however whatever the conversation is going to be, it is going to be between you too.

It’s particularly natural to inquire about your work environment’s safety if you share an office with another person. Brewer recommends expressing that you’re concerned about your proximity to other people since the risk of COVID-19 transmission is significantly higher in indoor settings.

If someone doesn’t want to share their vaccination record, you should behave as though that person is unvaccinated.

‘Is the company considering vaccine mandate?’

Ultimately, companies can avoid these uncomfortable conversations by setting rules and mandates and clearly communicating them to employees.

“Consider talking to your employer to establish what the norms are in your company,” Brewer says. “It would be particularly helpful if this information is collected by the employer rather than by individuals trying to guess.”

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