And many feel it’s finally time to host those weddings, birthday and graduation parties that were put on the back-burner when the pandemic shut down normal life more than a year ago. But they’re left wondering how to ensure their guests are safe. Is it appropriate to ask attendees to be fully vaccinated, and is it proper to include a mention of pandemic safety on invitations?
User casuspotbelli took to a wedding planning forum on Reddit to ask for advice: “Has anyone considered having the vaccine as a requirement for attending?”
“We are doing that!!!,” user gooseandgold wrote back, sharing the wording for the FAQ insert about COVID safety that would be included with the couple’s wedding invitation.
Others disagreed: “Hard no,” wrote nycphotogirl1. “You aren’t the government. You aren’t an airline. You’re a single person asking to retrieve vaccine proof from your friends and family. It’s too much. It’s invasive.”
Etiquette experts advise it’s reasonable to inquire about your guests’ vaccination status especially for a maskless event.
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“If you’re close enough to all your guests, it’s best to ask if they’ve gotten the vaccine before you send out the invitations,” said Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert. However, it may be more difficult to do this for larger gatherings or events where you don’t know all the guests personally.
In this situation, Swann suggests being blunt and disclosing your preferences on the invitation.
“You can write, ‘Here’s the type of event we’re having. We won’t be wearing masks because we’re all vaccinated, so please only RSVP if you have been vaccinated.”
Etiquette expert Lisa Grotts added if you’re willing to have unvaccinated people at your party, make sure to notify your guests in the invitation.
“The host can state that not all guests are vaccinated and therefore it will be up to the guests to decide if they would like to attend,” Grotts recommended.
Swann said another option is to include a question on the invitation asking guests about their vaccine status. She recommended adding an insert that reads, “Do you feel comfortable sharing your vaccine status with us?”
“Guests can check the box ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ ‘If so, have you been vaccinated? Or where are you in the process?'”
Swann said it is perfectly reasonable to un-invite unvaccinated people, even if it creates temporary discomfort.
“If your guest says they’re not vaccinated, you can follow up and say, ‘We asked this question because we’re only inviting individuals who got the vaccine. If you haven’t we will have to forgo spending our time together at this event.'”
However, the experts agreed it can be invasive to require that those invited to your event get a vaccine in order to attend.
“Right now it’s evident some people have decided they’re not going to get the vaccine at all or they’re going to wait, and it’s important we respect their decision and position,” she said.
Grotts advised against inquiring about the reason why someone is not vaccinated.
There are polite ways to ask someone about their vaccine status
If you want to know whether someone you’re planning on spending time with has gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, you shouldn’t feel bad about asking.
“We can’t afford not to be talking about it,” Thomas P. Farley, an etiquette expert professionally known as Mister Manners, told USA TODAY last week. “This is not like asking someone their age.”
Here are some tips on how to politely glean information about a friend or family member’s vaccination status, according to Swann and Farley.
- Talk about yourself: The pandemic is the new weather, as far as small talk goes, Farley said. Offering details about your vaccine status or experience is an easy way to open the door for a natural conversation about the topic. Try to avoid making a big “soapbox announcement” about vaccines, Swann said.
- Ask for clarity: If small talk isn’t revealing someone’s thoughts about getting vaccinated, go ahead and ask outright. Do it privately and take care to avoid sounding accusatory in how you ask the question, Swann said.
- Set boundaries: If you and your friend or family member are on different pages, be clear about your personal comfort level. Don’t apologize if you are more comfortable spending time outside or masked – rather, explain it’s a standard you have set for yourself for a limited time. “You have the right to establish that’s what you feel comfortable with,” Farley said.
- Don’t be confrontational: Asking about someone’s vaccination status so you can possibly adjust your activities is one thing. Trying to persuade them to change their mind about vaccines is another. There are ways of having that conversation, but in most cases, the confrontation isn’t necessary.
- Be positive: It’s important to reinforce that this relationship is important to you and that you want to spend time with your friend or family member, Swann said. Saying things like, “I respect your decision and I support you,” can go a long way. Keeping your relationships intact should be a priority.
Contributing: Joel Shannon