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“Are You Vaccinated?” is the Question Many are Asking Heading into the Holiday Season


During the holiday season, there’s almost always that one topic best avoided when sitting around the dinner table: whether it’s politics or religion, or anything in between.

This year is no different. Instead, depending on how you answer the most commonly asked question of 2021 may determine whether you get invited to dinner this year or not.

“Are you vaccinated?”

After being quarantined during the holidays last year, many are ready to mix and mingle with their loved ones again.

A recent Ohio State University Wexner Medical poll found that 46 percent of Americans will require guests to test negative for COVID-19 before attending a holiday gathering at their home.

It’s a question Vanessa Banks, of Cleveland, Ohio will be asking her guests before they’re invited to her house for her Kwanzaa celebration.

“It was an easy decision for me,” said Banks. “I didn’t celebrate with anyone last year, so I wanted to do something special this year. But I won’t compromise fun over safety. So far, all of my friends I’ve invited are vaccinated and we’re all looking forward to celebrating later this month,” she said.

Holiday gatherings bring friends, families and acquaintances together under one roof to eat, drink, watch sports and catch up on life in close quarters. And while fully vaccinated individuals can still contract COVID-19, studies have shown those individuals are less likely to develop serious illness compared to unvaccinated individuals.

“While it’s a small risk; it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I’ve had COVID-19 and lost my sense of taste for several weeks. For someone like me who’s a foodie, it sucked,” said Banks. “I want no one to go through what I went through, so that’s why I told all my friends before they step into my house, they better have their vaccine card,” she said.

Not just holiday celebrations

While the holiday season will come and go, large gatherings are here to stay.

Just ask National Association of Black Journalists Treasurer Walter Smith Randolph and LeAnne Armstead. In November, the couple married at their alma mater Villanova University in Pennsylvania before 160 guests, all who had been vaccinated.

“We talked about it (vaccination requirement) at length for a really long time, and since we were responsible for all 160 people, we wanted to use every tool in the toolkit to keep everyone safe,” said Armstead.

And Armstead held firm. All but three were vaccinated by the time the wedding rolled around including a bridesmaid who received her vaccination just so she could attend the wedding. Armstead does admit however, it did lead to some tough conversations.

“It was difficult, but we had to be strong on our convictions,” she said. “Not only were we concerned, but we had friends who were concerned as well. Some have kids and didn’t want to take the virus back to their own families.”

Armstead said she followed the state protocols and did everything in her power to make the celebration as safe as possible. And even though she chose a venue with semi-outdoor space, and arranged for ventilators to be brought in to help with the circulation, she knew hosting such a large crowd was still a risk. This was especially an issue since she has a 102-year-old grandmother and several friends who are immunocompromised.

“It was a load off some of our worries requiring everyone to be vaccinated. We felt so much better heading into the night,” Armstead said. “Plus the way I look at it, if my 102-year-old grandmother can get vaccinated, then everybody else can, including my friends who are my age,” said Armstead.

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