Throwing a party? As delta surges, many ask for vaccine status with RSVP
After 17 months of an insulating pandemic, April Peterson texted "I need a party" to a few friends.
They agreed, and Peterson sent out invitations for what she called her "eye of the storm party" -- named so because the delta variant surge suggests they may have only a small window to get together before rising rates trigger more restrictions.
Having picked this Friday, the Buffalo Grove woman had to decide whether to ask her guests to be vaccinated. It's a question facing hosts and hostesses across the country, including couples planning weddings.
The question of whether to request people attending private, social functions to be vaccinated elicits charged arguments from both sides.
The question, posed on the Daily Herald's social media pages, kicked off a wide range of responses. While some said they would comply, others said they would politely turn down an invitation that included such a request. One woman said she'd decline and probably not associate with the host in the future. One poster compared vaccination requests to bullying.
Several others, however, called the request reasonable, citing promoters requiring those attending concerts and festivals be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test for admission.
Fortunately for Peterson, most of her friends have been vaccinated, except for two.
"They've not been invited, and they completely understand," said Peterson, 65.
So far, no guests have declined citing the vaccination request as the reason.
Josephine Anand and her husband avoided any potential pushback by only inviting people they know are vaccinated to an upcoming engagement party they're hosting for a relative. According to her social media post, the couple will share a "minimal set of requirements" with guests. The party for about 20 people will be held outdoors.
"Pretty much everyone in my family believes in vaccinations," said the Buffalo Grove woman, who works with Chicago Vaccine Hunters, a Facebook group whose members help people book vaccine appointments.
"Even before the vaccination came about, we were very strict about the safety protocols we followed," she said, adding that her meticulousness has resulted in good-natured jibes from her friends.
Anand, 43, said she doesn't worry about her requests affecting relationships with her family and friends.
"Most times when people don't align with my beliefs, I don't strive to build a relationship with them," she said.
Wheeling resident Vicci Saesan already is thinking ahead to the holidays and how she might address the issue.
"We were planning on having Thanksgiving and I don't think I'm going to do it because certain family members aren't vaccinated," said Saesan, 62.
Saesan and her spouse attended a wedding in May, and while the invitation didn't expressly require guests to be inoculated, she says it was clear from the text messages back and forth that everyone in the wedding party was vaccinated.
"I know people who weren't invited because they were unvaccinated," Saesan said. "It ended up being an intimate wedding and it was outside. We were relieved."
Renee Harvey, 31, says she won't inquire about her guests' vaccination status when she hosts a baptism next spring.
"My close family members and friends treat vaccination status as a personal medical decision. ... It's not even a point of conversation for us," said the Hanover Park resident, who describes herself as "pro-informed consent when it comes to vaccinations."
Harvey, who declined to say whether she is vaccinated, said the issue has affected some of her relationships, acknowledging that some people have distanced themselves.
"We will gladly grant them that space if that's what they need," she said.