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Moving Out of the Pandemic with Vaccine Etiquette

As more people get vaccinated, life is slowly beginning to return to a normal pace and that’s a good thing. However, there is still a significant number of people who aren’t ready to get the vaccine, while vaccinated people are wondering how to interact with others. Psychology experts remind us that the unclear social norms with vaccination safety works against our desire for certainty. We don’t want to offend others, but we also don’t want to risk our health.

Since we don’t know each other’s personal situation, being sensitive to their concerns and practicing vaccine etiquette helps ease the awkwardness. No matter what stage of life you’re going through, practicing etiquette depends on our awareness to be flexible, respectful, and understanding with others. Below are five areas where practicing vaccine etiquette will ease personal stress.

1. Dating. Whether it’s online or in-person, asking your potential date if they’ve been vaccinated is acceptable and expected. Taking care of your health is more important than worrying about possibly embarrassing a potential date. Any potential dater more concerned with their privacy than keeping others safe from illness is a red flag for a relationship.

2. PTA Meetings or Teacher-Parent Conferences. If you haven’t been vaccinated, keep your mask on. There is no need to apologize or defend your position. It is perfectly expected and safer for you to be masked. Keeping distance helps, too.

3. Family events and weddings. If you make masks mandatory for attendees at your wedding or social gathering, that’s perfectly fine, but understand up front that some guests will opt out from attending. Many families have had to limit their guest list since their event could become a super spreader event. Most couples want happy memories from their special day, so keep that in mind and create a wedding day you will feel safe at.

4. Greeting old friends. Shake hands or elbow bump? Everyone’s concept of personal space has changed since the pandemic. Etiquette encourages you to respect the feelings of others. If you’ve gotten vaccinated, shaking hands is acceptable with another vaccinated person, but make sure you wash your hands after the encounter. Although the vaccine reduces your risk of COVID-19, it doesn’t make it zero. Even if you hugged in the past, don’t feel pressured or guilty for telling them you aren’t comfortable hugging.

5. Going out in public. Assume most people are not vaccinated and wear a mask. The best way to think about wearing a mask is as an integral part of self-care and protecting others. Once you enter a public place, it is still considered the best choice.

This past year has been full of changes, and the uncertainty of this virus has led to confusion and anxiety. Since there are no guarantees, it’s important to do what is going to make you feel safest in protecting yourself and others. Treating others as you’d like to be treated is still the golden rule even in vaccination etiquette.


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