‘Are you vaccinated?’: How to approach the tough questions this holiday season

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — Asking friends and family about their vaccination status ahead of holiday gatherings could help protect you and your guests, according to health experts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new holiday guidelines for 2021, stating the best way to stay safe at gatherings is to get a COVID-19 vaccine. For those not fully vaccinated, they recommend wearing a face-covering in indoor public settings.

FOX31 talked with experts on some of the questions around holiday gatherings and vaccination.

Should you ask holiday guests about vaccination status?

Dr. Reginald Washington, chief medical officer at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, said that even healthy, vaccinated people should be aware of who they’re mingling with around the holidays and whether they’re protected against COVID-19.

“We hear all the time of people going to a gathering where one person was not vaccinated and other people got COVID because of that — even people who have already been vaccinated,” Washington said.

He said the immunocompromised may want to reconsider attending holiday gatherings because of high transmission rates across Colorado.

How should you ask guests about their vaccination status?

Dr. Liz Chamberlain is a licensed psychologist at Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. She recommends approaching the conversation from a health and safety standpoint.

“Say, ‘Yeah, I’m really concerned about safety. I’m fully vaccinated, are you willing to share if you’re vaccinated or not?'” Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain said whether you’re hosting a gathering or attending, don’t be afraid to set boundaries and make your expectations clear.

When should you ask guests about vaccination status?

Chamberlain recommends having the conversation sooner than later to avoid any confusion or greater conflict.

“Just like any courtesy you would give to any host, make sure when you RSVP you discuss any concerns or any questions you might have about how they’re handling the COVID situation and handling COVID safety,” Chamberlain said.

What if someone responds negatively to the question?

“A lot of people have different views about vaccination or mandatory vaccination. I think the best thing to do is to really stay neutral and make it about being healthy and wanting to be together,” Chamberlain said.

She said if your expectations for vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests don’t align, focus on getting together in the future.

“You can say this was a tough decision, we’d love to see you, we need to make sure our guests are healthy and I understand if that’s not something you can do or get a negative COVID test, then we’d just love to plan to see you some other time,” Chamberlain said.

How should you respond to vaccine discussion at the dinner table?

Chamberlain said this depends on the views of those attending the gathering. If the discussion gets too heated, she recommends leaving the room to cool off or changing the subject.

“When we’re heated, when we’re in the moment and stressed, we’re not able to have a very good dialogue or conversation with someone about why we believe what we believe,” Chamberlain said.

She recommends thinking about difficult conversations beforehand and having responses prepared for questions that are outside your comfort zone.

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