Americans’ vaccination status against Covid-19 is likely to influence how they spend the holidays this year, as a new Harris poll finds vaccinated Americans are broadly hesitant of spending time with unvaccinated family members and friends—including at holiday gatherings.
The poll, conducted September 17-19 among 2,055 U.S. adults including 1,454 vaccinated ones, found 50% of vaccinated respondents are either “extremely” or “considerably” hesitant to spend the holidays with unvaccinated family members or friends.
Only 38% said they were not hesitant about making holiday plans with the unvaccinated, while 12% said it’s a non-issue because all their family and friends have gotten the shot.
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.
A 54% majority of all respondents said vaccination status would be a factor in deciding whether or not they will travel or attend events as part of their holiday plans.
The holiday hesitance reflects a broader discomfort: Majorities of vaccinated respondents said they would be very or somewhat uncomfortable with attending large parties or gatherings (67% uncomfortable), school plays or performances (61%) and weddings or other “milestone events” (61%) knowing some people would be unvaccinated, though only 47% said the same for smaller gatherings.
A further 42% of vaccinated respondents also said they had canceled at least one event or existing travel plan they had with people because they were unvaccinated.
Gatherings and events may not be the only aspect of the holiday season in which vaccination status will be a factor, as 66% of vaccinated respondents said they would also be very or somewhat uncomfortable attending major sale events like Black Friday sales knowing some people haven’t been inoculated.
Although vaccinated people are hesitant to do things with the unvaccinated, the poll found that only 12% said they categorically wouldn’t go to any events or gatherings unless everyone was vaccinated. Most vaccinated people instead said they would take increased precautions when at gatherings or events with those that haven’t gotten the shot, including wearing a mask (64%), keeping physically distanced (59%), using hand sanitizer (54%), getting a booster shot if possible (26%) and getting tested for Covid-19 before and after the event (22%). Only 9% said they wouldn’t take any precautions and would just “hope for the best.”
“Our new data suggests the vaccine divide is not only reshaping relationships, but soon the holiday travel season,” Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema said, noting 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 poll found 50% of all respondents had been asked by family or friends they’ve traveled to see to take precautions like mask-wearing, social distancing and providing proof of vaccination, of which 95% complied with at least to a certain extent. A larger share of 62% of all respondents said they would ask their family or friends to take safety measures of some sort if they were visiting for a gathering or event, though only 30% said they would definitely uninvite people from the event if they refused to do so.
The Harris poll comes after the pollster previously found that approximately one-third of vaccinated Americans had in some way “cut ties or ended relationships” with unvaccinated family members, friends or acquaintances, though 14% will still speak to them but not see them in person. Unvaccinated Americans are facing increased consequences for not getting the shot, as businesses and governments have moved to impose vaccine mandates for workers, require proof of vaccination to enter public places and imposed penalties like charging unvaccinated workers more for health insurance. A number of unvaccinated people have also now lost jobs as a result of the new mandates, including higher-profile people like Broadway star Laura Osnes, who had to bow out of a recent performance that required vaccinations, and multiple sports coaches who have refused the shot.