Karolina Grabowska via

Eve Besser, 42, of Dekalb, Ill., decided to get the coronavirus vaccine after months of hesitating. What changed her mind? Her 12-year-old son.

Besser, a long Covid patient, was reluctant to get the shot because she had heard that for some long Covid patients, the shot makes their illness worse. (For some, it makes them better, and for some, there’s no change.)

“Neither decision is easy,” Besser said in a phone interview. “I don’t like either of the options, really. This is what changed my mind. The options are one, as a long-hauler, to get vaccinated, and have some kind of reaction and possibly make my long Covid stuff worse, because there’s always a chance of that, versus not getting vaccinated. And even though we’re being very careful, and just hiding, possibly getting Delta or another variant, and then it killing me.

“I can’t leave my son. He already doesn’t have a dad — his dad passed away. So I’m going to have to be willing to be sick for a little while and just hope that, you know, it helps rather than hurts. But at least at the end, I’ll be there for him still.”

She’s planning to take her son to her doctor’s office in early September — the doctor is changing places of practice — and they will both get vaccinated, she said.

Besser, who is not able to resume her work as a nanny because of her long Covid symptoms, is an example of people who are changing their minds and deciding to get the Covid vaccine, often as a result of the surge in cases from the Delta variant.

Why do people change their minds?

We asked on Facebook, and one woman reported a friend had changed her mind. Why? “I told her my story. She went to Walgreens right after and got vaccinated so her friends couldn’t talk her out of it”

Another woman said a friend had changed her mind. Why? “The surge of cases in our area, they have an upcoming road trip to Vegas, and several of her family members and friends have gotten the v with no bad effects.”

A man posted on Facebook on July 28: “I’ve seen what Covid has done 1st hand over the last month. Ironically, only seen it affect a young lady and a very young man. Both of which had ties to my work. After returning from Florida earlier this month, it was on my heart to just go get the vaccine. I don’t know of any real complications of it. And I don’t know that it is very effective on the new variant. Either way I’ve had both doses feel fine and hope that maybe it might make a difference for someone else or even myself. Do what you feel is right. Don’t let anyone force your hand either way. It’s still a choice. That was mine.” He got his first shot July 6.

A woman: “My dad has continued to push off getting the vaccine due to all the misinformation on tv and social media. After sitting down with his doctor and getting the pros & cons, he just got his second shot!”

Being able to see the grandkids

Another woman, who is a long Covid patient, as is her husband: “A few reasons. 1. I was afraid my son wouldn’t let me see my grandkids when I get back to Florida if we didn’t. 2. Delta is spreading so much. 3. My husband thought he was dying last time he had it and I was afraid we were gonna get it again cause my husband doesn’t understand the concept of 6 ft apart or constant hand washing.” ????

A man, commenting on what makes people change their minds: “Someone they know died or got deathly ill.”

A woman: “My 83 year old dad decided to get it once the Delta variant hit the RGV. He doesn’t go anywhere but wanted to feel safe enough to see grandkids. I myself am just starting to consider it.”

A woman: “My brother in law is a huge conspiracy theorist (i.e the vaccine is going to kill everyone ????) and he’s getting vaccinated because he’s sick of being “inconvenienced” not being able to go places and having to pay for covid tests but still thinks it’s just a mild flu.”

‘Protect our daughter’

A woman who’s a long Covid patient: “Myself and my husband got our first dose of Phizer recently. What changed our minds even though we are both long haulers is to hear about delta and the other variants doing more damage than the ones from last summer. Also hearing about the rising number of kids getting delta made us choose to in order to protect our daughter.”

Another woman: “The surge of cases in our area, they have an upcoming road trip to Vegas, and several of her family members and friends have gotten the v with no bad effects.”

Another long Covid patient: “Telling my story has helped several people. Also sharing information that counteracts some of the misinformation. And the delta variant has also helped change some minds.
But both of those only help with people on the fence—not people dead set against it. Not sure if anything can help there. ????”

Besser also expressed sympathy for people who can’t get vaccinated, like younger kids, who might bring it home.

“I don’t think it’s fair to put children in the responsibility of possibly killing their parents,” she said. “Like these kids that can’t even get vaccinated, they go to school. And if they bring it home and one of their parents dies because of it. How can you put that on a kid?”

He talked with his doctor

James Gregory, 69, who lives in Florida also recently changed his mind, after talking with his longtime doctor.

Why did he wait? First, he said, because of the politics surrounding the vaccine: Trump vs. the Democrats. “I don’t believe either one of them,” he said.

Gregory works at Disneyland, as a mechanic for a roller-coaster ride, and his daughter had been trying to convince him to get it.

“Well, I do have a pacemaker, and I had a big stomach operation within the last two years, so I wasn’t so sure I was a candidate for it,” he said. “Then the company started pushing it. And I still I pushed back.

“My daughter kept pushing me and I said, Well, you can’t believe anything, anybody’s saying anymore. I’m going to go to my heart doctor, and see what he says. So when I went in, and I told him, I said, I have concerns, he asked me what they were. And I told him, you know, put the pacemaker — now everybody’s lying. And he said, “Yes. Everybody’s lying. Well, not so much their lying, but they’re giving you part of the truth.

“I have a friend that works at a hospital right outside of Disney, his wife does, and she said they’re not they’re not that full with Covid patients — and her comes the TV saying ‘Oh, yeah, all the hospitals report they’re full and there’s no rooms and they’re laying out in the hallways — but that wasn’t exactly true.”

Gregory said his doctor had the Pfizer vaccine, and recommended that to him.

He said his doctor also told him that some hospitals were short on beds because they had downsized after the first round of Covid. “He goes, yes, the hospitals are full, but the reason they’re full is because they cut the bed sizes down. When the COVID the first round started to go away. So one side of the political scheme is saying, ‘hey, the hospitals are full.’ The other side is saying, ‘No, they’re not.’ So they both have their version of it.”

“We had a few more discussions about what was going on, and  what should I expect to get it and everything. He answered my questions. I thought he was very honest. He didn’t choose any political side, he just told you what the truths and the false narratives were.

“At that point, I decided I was going to get the shot. But if it hadn’t been for him, I probably would not have gotten the shot. I think he was telling more of the truth from the physician side to the patient side.”

Objections, and finally two choices

What were his specific objections? His wife, he said, “heard people are getting a shot and they were getting sick. Some of them were dying. Some of them had problems with their nervous system. And, you know, you hear the other side people got sick, but you know, they’re not that bad.

“The doctor told me, ‘James, if you get the shot, I guarantee you’re not going to die. You might get sick, but you’re not going to die. But then again, if you don’t get the shot, the chances are you’re going to get sick and there’s a good chance you are going to die.’ So there are the two choices that I had to pick from. I just went with what he said because he’s in the field, he sees the people. And he knows what’s going on.”

His wife, he said, still refuses to get vaccinated, because she has a friend who thinks the vaccine made her ill.

Nevertheless, the number of people who have changed their minds and decided to get vaccinated after hesitating is growing. Besser wrote by Facebook on Saturday morning: “I told my reasonings to my friend who struggles horribly with anxiety and she said my words hit her heart and she went and got vaccinated this morning!!”

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...