HALF of vaccinated Americans are hesitant about holiday gatherings with the unvaccinated

Vaccinated Americans are hesitant to gather with unvaccinated family and friends this holiday season, a new Harris poll suggests.

Half of vaccinated respondents said they are either ‘extremely’ or ‘considerably’ hesitant about congregating with those who haven’t gotten their COVID-19 shots.

About 38 percent said they were not hesitant, while the final 12 percent said this question was not an issue – because anyone they would see at a holiday gathering was already vaccinated.

The poll reflects continued caution among the vaccinated and an increasing social divide between Americans who have and haven’t chosen to receive their Covid shots. 

Vaccinated people are likely to hesitate before making holiday plans with unvaccinated friends and family members, a new poll suggests. About 50 percent say they're 'very or somewhat' hesitant about making such plans, while 38 percent say they're not hesitant

Vaccinated people are likely to hesitate before making holiday plans with unvaccinated friends and family members, a new poll suggests. About 50 percent say they’re ‘very or somewhat’ hesitant about making such plans, while 38 percent say they’re not hesitant

The poll results highlight vaccinated Americans' tendency to continue taking Covid precautions and avoiding large gatherings

The poll results highlight vaccinated Americans’ tendency to continue taking Covid precautions and avoiding large gatherings

Last winter, gatherings at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays became a major source of rising Covid cases in the U.S.

Though public health experts warned Americans not to travel – and to take safety precautions if they had to travel – the country set air travel records in late 2020.

Around Christmas, for example, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened more than one million people six times in ten days.

Shortly after that holiday, the country saw its highest case numbers of the pandemic: 250,000 cases per day in early January, with more than 120,000 Covid patients hospitalized.

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This year, some public health experts are predicting another surge – but with the majority of Americans vaccinated, rising cases likely wouldn’t lead to as drastic a rise in hospitalizations and deaths as we saw last year.

‘It is likely that we’ll see some wave,’ computational biologist Dr Trevor Bedford recently told STAT News

‘I would like to think it’s very unlikely to be as big as it was last year.’

Still, the new Harris poll indicates that many vaccinated Americans are still concerned about this holiday season – and may restrict their gatherings as a result.

The survey was conducted from September 17 to 19 and included 2,055 adults, of whom 1,454 were vaccinated.

The poll results, published in Forbes on Tuesday, did not include other information about the poll respondents’ demographics.

Among the vaccinated respondents, exactly half – 50 percent – said that they are ‘extremely’ or ‘considerably’ hesitant about gathering during the holidays with family members or friends who hadn’t received their shots.

A smaller number – 38 percent – said that they were not hesitant about such a gathering.

The remaining 12 percent said that vaccination was not a consideration in their holiday plans, as all their friends and family members are vaccinated.

Similarly, 52 percent of vaccinated poll respondents said they would be ‘very or somewhat uncomfortable’ with attending a holiday gathering, such as a Thanksgiving dinner, where they knew some attendees were unvaccinated.

Among all the poll respondents – vaccinated and unvaccinated – 54 percent said that vaccination status would be taken into consideration, when they planned whether to travel or attend large events, Forbes reported.

In addition, 66 percent of vaccinated respondents said they’d be very or somewhat uncomfortable going to a major sales event, like Black Friday – if some shoppers were not vaccinated.

Vaccinated respondents’ hesitancy over holiday plans mirrored similar hesitancy about other large gatherings and public events.

For example, 67 percent said they were very or somewhat uncomfortable attending large parties or gatherings if not all attendees were vaccinated, according to Forbes.

About 61 percent said the same thing for attending school plays or other performances, and 61 percent gave the same answer for weddings or other ‘milestone events.’

A smaller number of vaccinated respondents – 42 percent – said they’d canceled ‘at least one event or existing travel plan’ because the plans involved unvaccinated people.

‘Our new data suggests the vaccine divide is not only reshaping relationships, but soon the holiday travel season,’ Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema told Forbes.

He noted that vaccinated Americans are ‘placing stricter boundaries around who they choose to spend time with.’

‘So expect to see cancellations and rerouted plans as vaccinated Americans avoid their unvaccinated friends and family,’ Gerzema added.

The majority – 62 percent – of the poll’s respondents said that they’d ask family or friends to take some kind of safety precaution, such as mask-wearing or social distancing, at a gathering.

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About half of that number – 30 percent – said that they would ‘definitely uninvite people from the event’ if those safety precautions were not followed.

Previous Harris polls have suggested that a number of vaccinated Americans have ended relationships with unvaccinated family members, friends, and other acquaintances.

The holiday season will likely pose further challenges to relationships, as vaccine requirements for workers and for entry into public spaces ramp up in many parts of the country.


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