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Social Graces: Is it rude to ask how someone qualified for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Hannah Herrera Greenspan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Q: On social media, a number of friends have posted about receiving the coronavirus vaccine. Is it rude to ask how they qualified to get appointments?

A: You would make the assumption that people you care about, your friends and family members, have been ethical about receiving the coronavirus vaccine.

Depending on your relationship, you can certainly ask where they are in the process or what the process is for getting an appointment, so you know what to expect. Directly asking how they got an appointment puts them on the spot and sounds a bit accusatory.

You can also frame it as wanting to know what to expect when it’s your turn to get vaccinated — something like, “I’m not sure what to expect. Can you please enlighten me? How did it go? What happened afterward?”

It’s best to ask only close friends about the process of getting a coronavirus vaccine because you never know if someone has underlying health conditions you’re unaware or they’ve chosen not to receive the vaccine.

And once you’re vaccinated, remember, to continue wearing a mask, social distancing and abiding by other local rules because we all want to hug and celebrate again.

— Julie Blais Comeau, chief etiquette officer at Etiquette Julie


A: Let’s take a step back and figure out what you’re really asking your friends. The real questions are: “Who’s your vaccine connect?” or “How did you get around the system to get an appointment?” Even though more people qualify for appointments, it’s still challenging to obtain one.

Assess the closeness of the friendship. If they are close friends, nine times out of 10, you perhaps already know why they qualify for an appointment. If not, then you’re inquiring about their medical history or any preexisting conditions they may not want to share.

Since they are posting about receiving the vaccine, it is OK to ask how they went about booking an appointment, any appointment openings they may be privy to, and what they’re overall experience was at a vaccine site.

There’s a difference between general information gathering and personal information gathering in the context of a friendship. Again, with close friends, this personal information comes up organically. With acquaintances and more peripheral friends, let’s keep it to more general information gathering.

— Terrence Chappell, principal, Chappell Communications Group

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