As the summer season draws to a close, many Americans are looking forward to ringing in the holidays with loved ones, especially since last year at this time lockdowns and health restrictions often made such gatherings difficult.
Yet sadly, for many, that pandemic-driven isolation may be spurred on for another holiday season as COVID-19 vaccination status weighs heavy on the minds of the American populace.
According to the results of a new survey, half of vaccinated Americans say they are considering avoiding unvaccinated family and friends during the upcoming holiday season, Forbes reported.
The survey, conducted by Harris Poll from Sept. 17-19, surveyed more than 2,000 Americans, including 1,454 of whom have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Of those vaccinated individuals, 50% reported being either "extremely" or "considerably" hesitant to spend the holidays with unvaccinated family members and friends, while just 38% said they are not hesitant about doing so. The remaining 12% called the ordeal a non-issue since family and friends have likewise been vaccinated.
Forbes reported that "a slightly larger share of 52% of vaccinated respondents said they would be very or somewhat uncomfortable to attend a holiday dinner or gathering knowing some people are unvaccinated."
"Our new data suggests the vaccine divide is not only reshaping relationships, but soon the holiday travel season," Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema said.
He added 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."
The alienation of the unvaccinated is part of a larger trend. Another survey conducted by Harris Poll recently found that roughly one-third of vaccinated Americans "have in some way stopped socializing with friends, family members, or acquaintances because they're unvaccinated."
A separate poll found that those vaccinated Americans who have ended relationships since March 2020 believe their ex-friends to be "full-blown anti-vaxxers."
Furthermore, the decision by the vaccinated to avoid unvaccinated family and friends is a perplexing one given that vaccinated Americans are protected against the virus. It's true that breakthrough cases have certainly been reported, especially alongside the rise of the Delta variant. But public health experts have consistently touted the vaccine as a reliable defense against severe illness and hospitalization.
Nevertheless, many vaccinated individuals still appear to be wary of contracting the virus, and so are avoiding the unvaccinated at the expense of social relationships. If only they knew that infected vaccinated individuals may carry the same viral load as infected unvaccinated ones.