Culture / Newsy

A Modern Etiquette Expert on the Do’s and Don’ts of Talking About the Covid-19 Vaccine

Don’t Be a Vax Bragger, But Do Consider Always Keeping a Mask on Hand

BY // 03.29.21

As more and more people begin to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, and a hope for a more social tomorrow emerges, as does a new etiquette. For advice on the do’s and don’ts of discussing the Covid-19 vaccine, we turned to Heather Wiese Alexander, a modern etiquette expert and founder of Dallas-based luxury stationery brand Bell’INVITO.

 

Refuse the temptation to ask…
For those waiting their turn, finding out a friend who was seemingly in your rollout group is already fully vaccinated can prompt the question, “How did you manage to get it?” Of course, you never know what might qualify a person to get the vaccine.

“It’s important for grace to go both ways because this is such a new situation for all of us,” Wiese Alexander says. “Instead of asking how, ask them to share their experience. ‘Are you feeling good? That’s great!’ Make it more of a high-five moment than a question-and-answer scenario where they might feel pressured.”

Don’t be a vax bragger…
“It’s one thing to be proud when asked, yet another to be a willing example of community health, but stop short of bragging. A simple glowing smile and one social media post are perfect. Remember to be considerate of those not-yet-able or even still warming up to the idea. Compassion is key during this past year of challenges,” Wiese Alexander says.

 
To attend or not to attend — that’s still the question.
Anxiety around gathering doesn’t magically go away with a vaccine. But whether or not you feel comfortable attending an event, Wiese Alexander encourages one thing: commit decisively and with gratitude.

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“Say, ‘Thanks for inviting me! I’m not able to join this time, but I’m looking forward to finally getting together soon!’ or ‘Yes! I’ll be there.’ Then, of course, show up. Don’t ask your host a barrage of questions, just come prepared. Come with a mask. Come prepared to politely and calmly say goodbye early if the number of people or proximity of everyone doesn’t make you comfortable. If you do leave, don’t make a scene. Briefly tell your host ‘see you soon’ with a genuine smile or a kiss blown from across the crowded room, and leave,” Wiese Alexander says.

She also advises hosts to prepare to be cool with the occasional guest exit. “Don’t go chasing. Don’t remind there is still food or entertainment to come. These are the times we’re in.”

A new must-have accessory…
“A concern I’ve been hearing a lot is, ‘I would prefer to still wear a mask, but nobody else had one.’ If you want to wear a mask, don’t feel pressured to take it off because other people don’t have one on. You do not look weird wearing a mask,” Wiese Alexander explains of post-vaccine etiquette. “Always have one on hand, just in case you show up and there are three people that have one on, it’s the considerate thing to do, whether or not you’ve been vaccinated or not, because there are still so many questions.”

After a year of trying to be more compassionate toward others, how can we keep the momentum going as more people become vaccinated?
“Even the medical experts will tell you there are still questions, lots of good in-coming data, and even more testing still to be done. When talking about your pro-or-anti-beliefs the most important way to get your point across is with some good old-fashioned empathy. Listen. Ask questions,” Wiese Alexander says. “There are a lot of words that became popular during the pandemic that I don’t want to hear again, but I hope we hang on to empathy. I hope it continues to resonate and grow. It’s been a really great lesson for us to learn.”

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