How to handle unvaccinated family at holiday gatherings

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“It's a denial that this [continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic] is happening because it's too overwhelming to face,” Patricia O’Gorman says. “When I think about it that way, it allows me to have empathy for the person who won't be vaccinated, as opposed to rage.” Photo by Shutterstock.

If you’re gathering with family for the holidays, and you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but some loved ones are not, what should you do? 

Greater LA gets guidance from Patricia O’Gorman, a clinical psychologist and a member of the COVID-19 Psychology Task Force at the American Psychological Association, which provides support for underserved communities affected by the pandemic. 

“We really need to talk to each other and suss out what's going on with the people we love who have such a different take on all this,” she says.

She suggests compromising and empathizing with family members beforehand to help keep guests safe, avoid possible tension, and enjoy holiday gatherings. 

O’Gorman says some families are requiring testing for everyone — vaccinated and unvaccinated. That levels the playing field for all guests and avoids making anyone feel excluded.

And if an uncomfortable conversation comes up, we should try to understand people’s fears and share our concerns about the virus. 

“This is an opportunity for us as a society to talk about the thing we're all in denial of, which is death and illness,” she says. “How can we have those conversations with the people we love most in the world called our family?”

Credits

Guest:

  • Dr. Patricia O'Gorman - Member, COVID-19 Psychology Task Force at the American Psychological Association