You should ask your family members if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before inviting them to Thanksgiving dinner, say Canada’s top doctors.
Depending on his answer, he said, you may want to change your plans, move dinner out, or add extra precautions to your schedule.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said, “Our advice is really, overall, keep indoor gatherings safe by asking your guests … your family … whether they have been vaccinated or not.”
“Sometimes it’s a tough question.”
Tam said that if you or your guests have not been fully vaccinated, you should “limit gathering to members of your household,” and “keep things outside as much as possible.”
His comments come on the heels of news that the COVID-19 pandemic may be ending in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
While progress across the country has been uneven, new modeling presented by PHAC on Friday suggests the number of new daily cases could decline in the coming weeks if current transmission levels are maintained.
To move things in the right direction, Tam said Canadians should continue to exercise caution.
Inquiring about the vaccination status of guests before Thanksgiving dinner is just one step you can take, he said, adding that Canadians can take “some basic measures, such as improving indoor ventilation.”
Tam said masking and spacing are also useful tools you can use to follow your local public health guidelines during the holidays.
TAM’s deputy Dr. Howard Njoo said Canadians should not hesitate to speak to friends and family about their vaccination status and express any concerns they may have.
“If, let’s say… a family member hasn’t been vaccinated, you should politely explain your situation and your level of discomfort. And if they don’t want to be vaccinated, it’s their choice, Naju said.
“But there are also consequences for family dynamics and feeling secure about other people being together.”
According to Verdit Ravitsky, a bioethicist who teaches at the Université de Montréal and Harvard’s medical school, having sometimes difficult conversations with unvaccinated relatives is actually the most ethical thing you can do.
“It is absolutely fair, beyond reasonable. I think it is completely ethical,” Ravitsky said in a previous interview with Granthshala News.
“I think the only people who should worry about the ethical aspects of their decisions are those who choose not to vaccinate.”
She said those who elect to be vaccinated are not at risk of driving without a seatbelt – they are driving while intoxicated.
“Not being vaccinated is like driving drunk. You are really putting others at risk,” Ravitsky said.
“And so I think that in this very sensitive context of families and friends, part of our moral responsibility is still to educate, advocate for vaccination and try to convince our relatives and friends to do the right thing. “
Ravitsky said it’s best to have these conversations with vaccine-hesitant Canadians “with respect and empathy” and to make sure you don’t laugh at their concerns.
“Come from a place of empathy. Say things like, ‘I understand you’re feeling under pressure. I understand you’re feeling threatened.’ Usually, our human rights and freedoms are the main considerations in our society, but we are living in a special time,” she said.
“This is all temporary. We will get out of this. But for your freedom to choose what else to do to get out of it and come back with respect for human rights, we need vaccines.”
As for Tam and Nju, they say they plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family this weekend. While Tam says she can keep things virtual, Nju has immediate family over for dinner — and they’re all fully vaccinated.
“My wife and I are both fully vaccinated, so that’s fine, and we’re actually planning on having a personal gathering with some immediate family members, we’ve discussed with them, they also Fully vaccinated,” Naju said.
“I think we’re lucky.”
– With a file from Granthshala News ‘Leslie Young’
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