For the first time in two years, Michelle Cromer will gather in person with a big group of loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving.
But before that happens, she has asked everyone on her invite list to make sure they’re vaccinated against COVID-19. Cromer, 61, of El Paso, Texas, and her husband knew that some guests might object.
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“We decided that for the safety of the other majority of the guests, we needed to go ahead and make this a priority,” she says.
Cromer isn’t alone in asking guests to take precautions against the coronavirus this year. Nearly two years into the pandemic and after pared-down or virtual celebrations of the recent past, many are celebrating with family and friends again.
“Things look very different than they did at this time last year,” says Shira Doron, M.D., an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
Despite improving conditions, some holiday hosts are asking about vaccine status or requiring testing as a prerequisite for going back to pre-pandemic celebrations. The continued presence of the delta variant means that precautions should still be taken, Doron says, requiring sometimes-tricky discussions about virus safety and comfort levels.
‘I had to uninvite her’
Cromer started by alerting her holiday guests that they’d need to be vaccinated.
In October she sent out a group email informing invitees of the rules and asking them to reply with copies of their vaccination cards. “When I did do that, I discovered that my sister-in-law was, in fact, not vaccinated. So I had to uninvite her,” Cromer says.
As a result, her brother will stay home in Dallas with his wife and miss the annual gathering for the first time in 20 years (with the exception of the pandemic-induced break). Fortunately, there were no hard feelings, Cromer says. The family plans to do a Zoom call with missing guests during their gathering to allow them to feel “part of it and give them the chance to say hi to everybody,” she says.