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Social Graces: You’re hosting a family get-together. Should you only invite those who are vaccinated for COVID-19?

Hannah Herrera Greenspan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Q: Many people in your family have received the coronavirus vaccine, but there are a few who haven’t yet. When planning a get-together, should you invite only those who are vaccinated?

A: Rather than create divisions within the family by inviting some members and not others, a better strategy is to consider how everyone can meet as safely as possible.

If the invitation is extended well in advance, perhaps the promise of a gathering can will motivate everyone to seek a vaccine. Doing so would make the gathering safe for as many people as possible and promote public health.

If the timeline doesn’t allow for vaccination, it is useful to consider how many people within the party have been vaccinated, and for those who have not been vaccinated to consider whether they are at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Current guidelines from the CDC do allow for unvaccinated individuals from one household to gather with vaccinated members of another household in a small group if no one is at a disproportionately higher risk of contracting severe illness.

— Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

A: As we navigate this gray zone in the pandemic, the safest and kindest approach is to continue to proceed with caution. Now that vaccinations are starting to become more widely available, it is absolutely a time of great hope and optimism. But for those who are still in the queue and those who are afraid that they still won’t be fully protected, it can be a difficult and emotional time.


With that in mind, I would recommend that, as much as possible, people should consider virtual get-togethers first, as they will likely be the most inclusive. By keeping things virtual, people won’t feel they are being left out because of their health status and people aren’t pressured to take risks for which they might not be ready.

A second option continues to be outdoor get-togethers. If they’re allowed in your area, with the use of masking and distancing, these are also a nice option, but they do require more careful planning.

If you are determined to connect in person and your local public health guidance does allow for in-person get-togethers for fully vaccinated people, consider keeping them as small as possible. This allows you to still have that connection we’ve all been craving so desperately, while keeping the friends and family we love that much safer.

The good news is that fully inclusive in-person get-togethers with our family and friends aren’t far away, and if we treat our loved ones with grace and empathy now, we can all look forward to many joyful and safe reunions in the not-so-distant future.

— Lisa Orr, etiquette and protocol consultant

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