- Planning a Fourth of July party this year could be socially awkward, especially if you’re unsure of the vaccination status of your guests.
- If you’re worried about asking whether an invitee is vaccinated, try building up to it by being open about why you’re asking.
- If there will be unvaccinated adults at the gathering, the risk of transmission will mostly be for those who are unvaccinated.
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The United States isn’t going to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of Americans by July 4, but that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to celebrate.
Aside from the usual Independence Day reverie, many Americans vaccinated from COVID-19 can finally gather safely with their close friends and family after being apart for more than a year. More than 66 percent of all adults in the U.S. have at least been partially vaccinated.
“This is a small win and a small reward in a way for being vaccinated. It’s OK to gather and enjoy what we can,” said Dr. Diego Hijano, a pediatric infectious disease physician at the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Still, planning Fourth of July parties this year could be socially awkward, especially if you’re unsure of the vaccination status of your guests.
“The etiquette around asking about vaccination status, it is an uncomfortable conversation. And I think it may be the best bet to be transparent and straightforward,” said Dr. Jeannie Kenkare, chief medical officer at PhysicianOne Urgent Care.
This concern is especially pressing when the delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly and proving more easily transmissible. Yet the risk is low if you’re vaccinated, which is all the more reason to be aware of inoculation status.
Kenkare and Hijano agree that it’s possible to gather safely for the holiday without the faux pas. Here’s how to do it.
If you’re worried about asking straight out whether an invitee is vaccinated, try building up to it by being open about why you’re asking. Explain why you decided to get vaccinated yourself and that you see an opportunity for a safe gathering if everyone else is vaccinated, too. Then turn it over to the other person and ask what they’re doing to stay safe.
“It’s going to be difficult, and people may not take it well if you’re asking that, but you have to do what you have to do to keep you and your family safe,” Hijano said.
Kenkare also emphasized that there is a precedent for these types of conversations.
“You might ask people before the pandemic, if they’re not well, not to come. So I think this is something very similar along those lines,” Kenkare said.
Even if these initial conversations are somewhat awkward, having them can avoid a social disaster down the line. Kenkare and Hijano agree that it’s the host’s responsibility not only to ask the vaccination question but then communicate the answers to all other guests.
“You don’t want to be the person who invites a bunch of people without asking, and then someone gets infected,” Hijano said.
With all of the information in hand, guests and hosts alike have a decision to make.
If all eligible adults and teenagers are vaccinated, there’s little to no risk of attending a party, especially outdoors, Hijano said.
If there will be unvaccinated adults at the gathering, the risk of transmission will mostly be for those who are unvaccinated.
If it makes you nervous, you can always fall back on the safety measures we all know so well: Physical or social distancing, face masks, and handwashing.
“You will never be wrong if you apply those types of rules,” Hijano said.
You should also feel empowered to restrict your gathering to vaccinated adults only, but again, you’ll need to have straightforward conversations to make that possible.
“The more conversation that occurs around these things, the better people are armed to make decisions that work best for them,” Kenkare said.