What to do if your flatmate doesn’t want to get vaccinated

Flatmates Team


Throughout 2020 and 2021, it’s been a contentious topic of conversation the world over: to vax, or not to vax? Schisms have split entire households over the issue, and while we’re not here to help you win arguments against your Uncle Con the conspiracy theorist, we are here to help with your flatmates.


Having a flatmate who’s not vaccinated when you are can be a challenge — and not just in terms of diplomacy. Most of us who are vaccinated got the jab to protect those around us, as well as ourselves. If you have older or immunocompromised people in your life, or people who can’t receive the vaccine for health reasons, you’ll likely be fully vaxxed by now in an effort to prevent passing it on to them. And if you can’t have the vaccine yourself, well, making sure those you’re living with are vaccinated is essential.

So, what if your housemate doesn’t want the vaccine? With many states about to reopen, you might be starting to feel anxious about them bringing Covid home to your sharehouse. If so, it might be time to talk. Put the kettle on, sit them down, and ask them to share their thoughts.

1. Understand why they don’t want the vaccine

First up, try to dig into the reasons for their vaccine hesitancy. Given the changing messaging from governments around the world, it’s no wonder people are unsure whether the vaccine is really safe. Many are concerned about side effects — and, given the publicity allocated to blood clots, that makes some sense. Perhaps your housemate themselves has an underlying health condition that prevents them from getting vaccinated.

Treat this first part of the conversation as a fact-finding mission. Don’t assume you know what the answers will be: just open your ears and really listen to what they have to say.

2. Point them to reliable sources

We all have questions about the vaccine at some point. But where can your housemate get the answers they (hopefully) seek?

The first place is the WHO, which has some pretty great vaccine explainers. The Government Covid website also has explainer info, including the handy Is It True? FAQ section, and, of course, places to book the shot. If your Flatmate’s into science, send them the link to Covid coverage from Scientific American’s, The Scientist, or the BBC’s Science Focus magazine. Given the proliferation of misinformation through unofficial media sources, it may be best to stay away from the Youtube channels and Instagram accounts of unknown, unqualified influencers, but many trusted publishers do have accounts that you can recommend.

If your flatmate is part of a specific community, perhaps based on ethnicity, faith or culture, local community organisations are likely to have information and resources also, so do some Googling to find out who’s available to answer their questions.

Don’t forget: for many, a chat with their GP is extremely productive. It might not convince them on the spot, but many a vaccine skeptic has shifted their view after a GP visit. If your flatmate has a regular doctor, suggest they go in for a chat about the shot.

3. Talk about all the fun stuff they’ll miss out on

With vaccine mandates coming into force, and opening up about to begin, FOMO is about to sweep the unvaccinated parts of the nation. Without a vaccine passport, your flattie won’t be able to go to the pub for a pint, or out for dinner with you and the rest of the household — let alone travel anywhere.

Remind your housemate of the good times you used to share at the pub, and how you can’t imagine going back without them. A quick vaccine is a small price to pay for all the nights of fun ahead — especially as summer arrives and the beer garden opens up!

4. Remind them of their family

Does your flatmate have elderly people in their family, or relatives with underlying health conditions like diabetes, emphysema and so on? They may not be able to see them even after your state opens up unless they’ve had the jab.

We all know how important it is to spend time with our older relatives, and we’ve all been so restricted since Covid took over our lives that many of us have already missed more than enough precious time with the seniors we know and love — plus anyone else with fragile health. Does your flatmate really want to sacrifice those relationships for the sake of a vaccine that millions around the world are already benefiting from?

5. Gently explain that they risk losing you as a flatmate

You wouldn’t be reading this article if you weren’t already on the vaccination train. We know you don’t want to risk infecting the people you love — or getting a breakthrough infection yourself — by living with someone who can be vaccinated, but refuses. It’s hard for someone who sees vaccination as a public duty not to see refusal as selfish. It’s not exactly fertile ground for a solid relationship with a flatmate or friend.

If you’ve decided the you won’t continue to live with people who are unvaccinated, you need to make that clear — gently — to your flatmate. While of course you don’t want to lose a housemate (or the place where you live, if that’s at stake), you also won’t want to lose their friendship. But with both of you knowing the others’ views, if you can’t agree on vaccination, it’s likely to put the future of your relationship in serious doubt.

6. Ask them to move out, or move out yourself

It’s crunch time. The conversation we’ve outlined here might have happened in one sitting, or over a period of time, but at some point, unless your flatmate gets the jab, you’ll likely reach an ultimatum.

The nature of that ultimatum will depend on the living arrangements (who’s on the lease, how many people in the house are vaccinated and how many aren’t, etc.) and how strongly you feel about the importance of vaccination. But eventually either you’ll have to accept living with someone who’s unvaccinated, or arranging a vaxxed-only household for yourself.

It’s good to know how far you’re prepared to go with this before you begin the conversation, because the last thing you want to do is shouting “Fine! I’m moving out!” in a rage and then later realising you don’t want to leave and wish you’d never said anything. So, be prepared for the possibility of having to find a new flatmate — if not a new share house.


Flatmates Team