The holiday season is a time of giving, sharing, and caring. VA’s “HolidayBoost” encourages Veterans to reach out to their Veteran friends and families, as well as those they care about, during the holidays with some suggestions for having constructive, compassionate conversations regarding getting the COVID-19 booster (and/or vaccine).

An important part of this conversation is to listen to the other person’s opinions and concerns and make sure they feel heard and understood.

Asking open-ended questions, offering your understanding, and empathizing with their concerns can help build trust and help them to consider a change. This requires us to accept, without judgment, that our loved ones may have and keep opinions that we disagree with, as well as honor their right to do so.

Follow these six steps to have a constructive, compassionate conversation

  1. Ask permission to talk about it.
  2. Explore their thinking about the booster (and/or vaccine).
  3. Express understanding for their concerns, acknowledge what they already do to stay safe, and respond to their concerns with empathy.
  4. Ask before offering new information. See if they are open to learning more information about their areas of concern.
  5. Keep the door open for future conversation.
  6. Offer help if they are open to getting a booster (and/or vaccine).

Note: If they need help with finding vaccine sites, go to Vaccine Finder ( or visit the VA COVID-19 Vaccine site (

Your constructive, compassionate conversation (PDF, 1.4MB) about booster shots (PDF, 232KB) with loved ones could truly be this season’s gift of good mental and physical health.

Additional resources:

By Michael G. Goldstein, MD, is an associate chief consultant for Preventive Medicine in VA's Office of Patient Care Services

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Published on Dec. 20, 2021

Estimated reading time is 1.6 min.

Views to date: 1,420


  1. Morris Kimbrough January 17, 2022 at 12:57 pm


  2. Jennifer Nicholson January 5, 2022 at 11:28 pm

    I had the J&J single dose vaccination June 2021- under duress, I might add, only did it because family were extremely concerned & stressed about my risk & I wanted them to relax, also only did it for my baby granddaughter although I don’t believe the vaccine will provide anything for my body it already wasn’t injected with during bootcamp–who knows what was in those, right?? Since my shot was the single dose I wondered what they recommended because I only see/hear the booster recommendations for the 2-dose system. Any help?

  3. William Braniff January 3, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    My wife and I got ours at the Bangor VA clinic in Maine. Feeling relieved that it is out of the way.

  4. Dr. Jill Brandon December 31, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    I asked my VA doctor why he was recommending I get the vaccine when I already had a tough case of Covid. I said nicely, “name one recent peer reviewed study that shows that Covid survivors need a vaccine?” Natural immunity is lifelong immunity, it’s science.

    What scares me the most, is that you can’t ask questions about what is being put in your body. You get double speak. That’s not science, that’s tyranny. This makes me not want to vaccinate. If our government was honest, I might feel differently. Forcing people to put foreign substances in their body or they lose their jobs or whatever is terrible. That is tyranny. If the vaccines truly worked, we would talk about natural immunity. What happened to “herd immunity”. Oh, that’s only for the vaccinated. Yeah, right.

    I am not anti-anything, I just don’t like being lied to. And that is what this feels like. Since I have already had Covid, I am going to sit back and wait until you are done with all your booster shots.

    [ ]

  5. Sean December 30, 2021 at 7:02 am

    “You should have your antibodies checked before getting a booster. You may not need it.” This is the advice of my close friend who is an NP and has extensive experience with Covid treatments.

    Also, I got both shots at the VA and barely had any side effects. A sore shoulder was the main thing. I’ve not gotten Covid.

  6. Michael Goldstein December 29, 2021 at 10:51 am

    Here is a link to the VA website page with information on how to get your booster at the VA, as we as how to find boosters in the community:

  7. PGJU December 29, 2021 at 12:07 am

    How on earth can we get a booster before March? We (husband and I) could not get a booster in November because were already ill with something. Now that we are better, VA clinic says no booster appointments until March?! By then, it will be time for a whole new round of full vaccines.

    • Nita January 2, 2022 at 9:03 am

      Publix and CVS are giving out booster shots. I received mines from Publix’s the other day

  8. Oliver Morgan December 28, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    Okay so where on this page does it tell you where or how you can get your booster shot at your local VA Center.

  9. BillD December 28, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    Will the VA Health team contact me about getting the booster shot?

  10. Ronald Crawford December 28, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    question: I received moderna in Jan and second shot in Feb. I got a Maderna booster shot in aug. Now i hear that they are recommending a 4th booster. I am 75 with copd. Is a 4th shot necessary?

  11. Mike December 28, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    Yeah another person. Counting on natural selection, my only problem is if you get covid and take a bed in the ICU, then I stroke out you’ll be in the bed I need because you were to selfish and short sighted to consider the consequences to others of your actions, congratulations you probably killed several grandparents ts with your action

    • Mike January 6, 2022 at 5:37 pm

      Did you stroke out do your lifestyle or choicies/habits that you have made? 3 Fingers point back at us when we point a finger at someone else…. Just saying

  12. Mike December 28, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    I got mine at walmart in and out on fifteen minutes including the after shot observation period,its free it’s fast has about the same side effects as the second shot,just show them you vaccination card so they know which vaccine you need

  13. Gregory Dearth December 28, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    I have received both and had no issues. Remember, correlation is not causation. If your arm falls off a few days after getting any treatment you cannot say it was the treatment. The facts improve over time. And if evidence arises that makes for a strong correlation, then you can start wondering about causation. A mechanism linking the treatment to the repeated symptom would then need to be identified to say there is a causal link.

    To date, there isn’t sufficient evidence of ANY severe side effect to any of the vaccines. None of the known mild side effects that occur in a low percentage of cases outweigh the risk of dying.

    Some call this fear mongering not realizing that fear is justified in some cases. On one hand you have a virus that has killed 800,000 Americans and that should be feared. On the other hand we have disinformation about a well proven vaccine, spread by non-scientist politicians and pundits. That fear is thereby NOT justified. The plurality of anecdote isn’t evidence so all the one-off stories about supposed vaccine issues doesn’t mean squat if no mechanism linking the vaccine to the occurrence can be demonstrated.

    The fact is that if there existed significant risks to the vaccine we would know by now. Competing nations would LOVE to expose evidence of the failings of their opposition. But no evidence or even claims exist to date that any particular nation has hazardous vaccines.

    In the end we have a simple logic problem. You are told to go into battle with a flak jacket. Some complaint that the flak jackets aren’t 100% safe. Some say it should be their personal liberty to wear them or not, as if shrapnel cares about your personal preference. And some, as expected, understand that protection isn’t a bad thing making mandates ridiculous, as it is really dumb that some have to be TOLD to protect themselves.

    But this analogy fails because a vaccine not only protects you, but it protects those around you. So your ridiculous preference to face the enemy without protection risks the lives of other people too.

  14. lee brewer December 28, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    I don’t get it… I don’t care if someone gets a shot or not. But I am surprised that anti-vaxers express great resentment every time someone encourages folks to get the jab or the booster jab etc. It isn’t a tribal event… if you don’t want to get a shot, so be it. With more than 300 million jabs, there are bound to be a percent that have a reaction. But that is the same stat analysis that says every time someone gets into a car, there are bound to be some people killed in an accident that don’t make it home. I still drive around too.

  15. Marc Diconti December 28, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    I haven’t gotten the first Vax let alone add-on injections of the test drug of which there are no known long-term effects. Ridiculous add by the VA, promoting fear!

  16. william silson December 28, 2021 at 11:44 am

    I got vaccinated. Had a heart attack 4 months later. Connection? Who knows. But my PRIOR EKG’s show no blockage a few months earlier. Now I have 2 stints.

    • Richard S Showman December 28, 2021 at 7:27 pm

      I got vaxxed, blood pressure through the roof and developed a heart murmur within a couple months

  17. Charley December 28, 2021 at 10:49 am


  18. Joe Farrell December 28, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Where are the answers to these questions?

  19. Joe Farrell December 28, 2021 at 10:22 am

    Where are all of the answers to these questions?

  20. Dewey Whisnant December 28, 2021 at 10:06 am

    Why is it taking forever and a day to complex my disability claim for bladder cancer from exposure to AO in Vietnam?????

  21. Larry Thorne December 28, 2021 at 9:45 am

    Where can I get tested for Covid? Can I get tested at the

  22. GARY A FULLER December 28, 2021 at 9:33 am

    Is it possible for my wife to receive a Covit 19 booster shot here in Billings, MT? She previously had two Pfizer vaccine shots earlier this year.

  23. Timothy Williams December 28, 2021 at 9:26 am

    When can I take my Pfizer booster shot, it’s been over six months.

  24. Enrique España December 28, 2021 at 8:21 am

    No mask, no shot, no booster, I do not comply. Stop trying to use patriotism and a military mindset to entice everyone to accept.

  25. Gary Kassuba December 28, 2021 at 8:11 am

    My question is simple. I’ve gotten two shots, if you get the vaccine, and you still get COVID, will your natural immune system kick in??? In other words, do the vaccines cancel your natural immune system from working or does it enhance your natural immune system?? No one seems to want to answer that question, not even Fauci. So, what’s the purpose of getting the booster???

  26. William B Smith December 28, 2021 at 7:48 am

    I’ts nice that your telling us how to talk to freinds and love ones about a booster while we can’t get one from the VA ourselves. I’m 8 months past 2nd shot with diabeties, high blood pressure, chronic pancreatitis, ect. All I get when I call is “We’ll call when your eligable” while they have been telling every one to get one. Normal VA service!

  27. Robert levin December 27, 2021 at 10:10 am

    Is the VA giving out covid test?

  28. Robert December 26, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    The vaccine nor the booster shots prevent infection.

    Further the booster is recommended for reduced antibodies… is blood work done before the shot to ensure its needed.

    Finally what are the long term effects of the mRNA modification?

  29. Propman CRM December 26, 2021 at 4:26 am

    What company is the not booster for shot?

  30. David Bales December 25, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Can wife’s get this at VA Roseburg Or

  31. Gerald A Edgar December 24, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Just remind the veteran he/she NEVER went into battle without every weapon & advantage we could access (ditto for all the shots we got when heading to SE Asia)!

  32. Larry Anderson December 24, 2021 at 9:58 am

    You chose not to publish my comment because it doesn’t fit your narrative! LETS HAVE A COMPASSIONATE DISCUSSION! I’m not anti-vax. I’m fully vaccinated, but nobody has proved to me that the booster is necessary! I am a fully licensed EMT/firefighter in Wisconsin. Don’t ignore me! We need this discussion, not ignorance!

    • Frangry December 28, 2021 at 11:27 am

      Try lower case “compassionate”

  33. Michael E Eyler Sr December 23, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    Needed to drop off my hearing for repair at McGuire. They were giving shots, and my wife and I checked on getting the booster. We needed an appointment; we drove over an hour to McGuire, round trip was over two hours. Needless to say, we did not get a booster.

  34. Norm Boyce December 23, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    When is this insane madness going to stop. I got the shot and I have asked a number of questions that medical personnel flat refused to answer. And how come no one is getting the original COVID, just the new variety?

  35. Charles December 23, 2021 at 6:08 pm

    It’s cool, I don’t need a talk with my inlaws. They keep Bannon on repeat. Merry Christmas!

  36. Brandon December 23, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    Where can a vet get the shot?

  37. BENJAMIM GABIJAN December 22, 2021 at 10:15 pm


    • EAW December 23, 2021 at 2:02 pm

      Pfizer and Moderna are both recommended. Happy Holidays!

Comments are closed.

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