The One Question You Should Never Ask Someone After They Get Vaccinated
This question could come across as extremely rude, according to medical and etiquette experts.
More than 95 million in the U.S. have received at least one dose of their COVID vaccine, according to Mar. 29 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That means approximately 29 percent of the U.S. population has experienced getting the COVID vaccine, with 71 percent still to go. Considering this is one of the biggest medical feats of our lifetime that's arrived on the heels of an indescribably difficult year, those who are still waiting their turn are understandably curious about what it's like to get vaccinated. How does it work? What are the side effects? The list goes on and on. And while there are a handful of appropriate things to discuss surrounding the COVID vaccine, there are some aspects of getting vaccinated that should be off-limits. To find out which question doctors, nurses, and etiquette experts all think you should avoid asking, read on, and to see what you should do once you've gotten your shot, check out The CDC Says You Should Immediately Do This Once You've Been Vaccinated.
Don't ask people how they got the vaccine.
As more people receive the COVID vaccine, more celebratory selfies and social media posts continue to pop up. With the vaccine in many states only available to select groups of workers or age demographics, along with those with qualifying medical conditions, it may leave some people wondering how a given person got the vaccine if their health situation is not apparent.
While it may be tempting to inquire about how someone you know got their COVID vaccine, experts warn against doing so. "Social conversations with individuals who have received the vaccine should not include questions as to how the person qualified," says patient advocate and founder of Medical Bill 911 Gail Trauco, RN. "This is clearly a violation of health privacy."
Family medicine doctor Puja Uppal, DO, adds: "A person's medical history is theirs to share. It's their right. It's their story to tell."
To see what you should put off for a few weeks after your shot, check out The CDC Says Don't Do This Until 4 Weeks After Getting Vaccinated.
People tend to ask this question out of an abundance of curiosity and a lack of boundaries.
"As humans, we are naturally curious… [which] can also make us nosey when we should be respectful," explains etiquette consultant Jodi RR Smith.
Since curiosity can easily come across as rude or insensitive, Smith reminds people who are on the receiving end of this question that "when in casual, small talk conversations, we are not obligated to share something we deem too personal."
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But there are plenty of other questions you can ask instead.
Instead of asking about why the person was eligible for the vaccine, steer the conversation in a different direction. Trauco suggests making it a "congratulatory" exchange. "Ask which vaccine the individual received and if both shots have been administered. You can even ask about post-vaccine reactions," she says. "Applaud a person for receiving their vaccination and moving society one step closer to herd immunity."
To see what you need to talk to your doctor about after your shot, check out The CDC Says Don't Take This After Your Vaccine Without a Doctor's OK.
There are ways to avoid answering a question if you're the one who's just been vaccinated.
If someone asks you how you were eligible for the vaccination, but you don't feel comfortable sharing, try shifting the conversation. "You can acknowledge your status while keeping the conversation moving along to another topic," says Smith.
For example, a response Smith suggests that can smoothly transition the conversation is, "Yes, I was lucky enough to be vaccinated already. I imagined it would change things quickly, but I am still wearing my mask when out and about in public. Are you eating at restaurants yet?" This now puts the other person in the position of having to respond to a more innocuous question.
Smith also says that for persistent questioners, you should have a response ready so that you're not uncomfortably caught off guard. She suggests something along the lines of, "I don't like to discuss my medical history. It's not terminal, but it is very private and I hope you understand."
To find out how often you might need to get a COVID shot, check out The Moderna CEO Says This Is How Often You'll Need A COVID Vaccine.