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Holidays + vaccines

  • November 26, 2021

Pumpkin Spice Lattes have returned, and kids are back in school, but some families are already looking ahead to the holiday season – and dreading it.

Mary Lundquist typically hosts her friends and family for Thanksgiving and Christmas at her home in the Pacific Northwest, but differing views on the COVID-19 vaccine have thrown a wrench in her plans. 

“We do have friends that have decided not to vaccinate, and then my oldest son has decided not to, so those people are not included,” she explains. “And I am not a very aggressive person; I have opinions for sure, but it isn’t easy for me to do that because my feelings and my heart are involved.”

Lundquist, 75, is “very sad” her eldest son will not be with her for the holidays. She fears for his safety and is concerned he has been sucked in to “irrational” and “crazy” conspiracy theories about the vaccine. 

Jean Pierre Sabourin’s holiday festivities have also been disrupted by conflicting views on the vaccine.

The 72-year-old from Ottawa, Canada, has a “very close family” that span five generations. But he recently realized not everyone shared the same opinion on vaccines when he invited the group to an in-person gathering and noted only vaccinated family members were welcome to attend.

“We were quite surprised to receive many negative responses about the need for vaccinations. Several stated it was a personal choice and we should not restrict family gatherings to only those vaccinated,” he explains. Each person gave a varied reason for their decision to remain unvaccinated.

“One responded that he had not completed his research. We were shocked and totally disappointed,” Sabourin says.

As a result of the opposing viewpoints, Sabourin and his wife have decided to forgo the festive season with family: Instead, they will travel to their vacation home in Florida early this year. 

“As to the unvaccinated, we hope and pray they will come to the senses over time and get vaccinated, and during that time, they will remain COVID-free,” he adds.

Amy Morin, psychotherapist and editor-in-chief at VeryWell Mind, says she’s heard from many people who are struggling with the holidays.

“They’re thinking not just about themselves, but about kids maybe who can’t be vaccinated or more vulnerable people in the family,” she says, adding people are also concerned about the emotional and mental health ramifications of not seeing family for yet another holiday. 

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