The Hosts Are Unvaccinated. Should the Guests Know?

My husband’s brother and sister-in-law are hosting an indoor wedding for another relative. They live in an area with a high rate of Covid-19 transmission, and we learned recently that they’ve chosen not to be vaccinated. More than 50 people are attending the event, including older, vulnerable relatives and a pregnant woman. (We have an 8-month-old baby.) Masks are not required. We are the only people who know the hosts are unvaccinated, and they were clearly upset when we asked about it. My husband and I are vaccinated, but of course our baby is not. Given the dangers of the Delta variant, should we tell other guests about our hosts’ vaccination status? Can we possibly bring our baby?

DEBBIE

The challenge of thorny problems like yours is finding a way to be helpful without acting as if we’re more powerful than we are. Yes, you and your husband may be the only ones who know the hosts’ vaccination status. But isn’t that simply because you asked them? Your best approach here is to encourage other guests to do the same. Let’s normalize sensible questions!

All invitees to social events should feel comfortable asking about the vaccination status of other attendees, as well as the safety precautions that will be in place. (The Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, but a small percentage of fully vaccinated people have experienced breakthrough cases.) If hosts are annoyed by reasonable questions, that’s their problem — not yours.

As for attending the wedding (with or without your baby), ask your doctor about indoor parties with unvaccinated, unmasked people. (She or he will not recommend them.)

If you want to discuss Covid risk with other invitees, don’t tell them what to do. (That doesn’t help with their next invitation.) Encourage them to create their own decision-making strategies guided by science. As long as a substantial minority of our population refuses to be vaccinated and dangerous variants circulate, making such risk assessments will be part of our daily lives.

Money, Please!

Increasingly, my friends post birthday requests on Facebook, asking us to make donations in their honor to one of their favorite charities. As a retiree who lives on Social Security and a small pension, I am embarrassed that I can’t afford to honor the growing number of requests I receive from Facebook friends. I also believe these requests come with an unspoken challenge to prove that I value our relationship by making a donation. Is there a solution to my discomfort?

MICHAEL

The solution here may require a reassessment of your circumstances, Michael. You worked hard throughout your adult life and created a secure retirement for yourself. This should be a matter of pride, not shame!

I hope you’re wrong about your friends’ “unspoken challenges” to prove your friendship by donation. There’s no evidence of it here. Call or write to your friends on their birthdays. Tell them how much they mean to you — and why. True friends will cherish that gift.

Texting Etiquette

I play in a tennis league of eight women (two courts of doubles). Recently, a couple of members texted the group about 40 minutes before we were scheduled to meet, asking that we push the start time back 30 minutes. Four responded; two never saw the texts. (One was busy, and the other was already driving to the courts.) One of the original texters apologized, but the other’s attitude was more like: “Why didn’t you check your phone?” Has the digital age changed what constitutes notice and good manners?

UNHAPPY

Long before cellphones, there were minor emergencies. Back then, a person would call around wildly trying to reach everyone in advance and get their OK for a later start time. Today, cellphones and group texts make it easier to notify everyone more quickly and (hopefully) win their agreement.

Here, the notice was clearly insufficient. One of the players was already driving to the courts! The other sounds less tethered to her phone than many of us. Sadly, I can’t dictate a precise window for polite notice. Try for a couple of hours at least. (Still, if your kid has to be picked up from the nurse’s office, there’s not much to be done about it — other than to apologize later.)

The Sneezes Say It All

My girlfriend adopted a mutt from our local animal shelter. (It’s an adorable dog!) But she tells friends who complain of having pet allergies that her dog is hypoallergenic when, in fact, she has no idea if it is. What should I do when this situation arises? Would it be disloyal to speak up?

BOYFRIEND

So far, your girlfriend sounds less adorable than her dog. Allergies to pet dander can be extremely serious. And it is not your girlfriend’s prerogative to make health choices for other people. (Also, dishonest friends are the worst!) Tell her that her baseless claim about her dog is a serious health risk, and if the issue comes up again, you will be honest with your friends. This may do the trick!

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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