Is there a polite way to reply to the vaccine police?

Instead of the familiar greeting, “How are you?” I hear, “Have you gotten the vaccine?” A simple and well-accepted reply, “No, not yet.” Understandable if you don’t fit into a high-risk group. However, not that the vaccine is becoming more accessible, you can expect to be questioned further.

Asking people about their health status or medical conditions has always been considered taboo. But now with COVID-19 screening questions and temperature-taking, it seems to have opened the door to a new and acceptable rule of etiquette.

How long will it be acceptable to ask about an individual’s health status, travel schedule, etc.? Will this invasive protocol continue beyond COVID? Will we dig deeper? And, will we expect full cooperation? What if they don’t comply?

These and many other questions are new. And as we find a way to deal with these dilemmas, it is causing conflict between family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Then of course, there are legal ramifications when we tip-toe into individual rights to privacy.

I’m often asked, “How can I respond when someone asks me whether I’ve received or plan on receiving the vaccine?”

More often, this question is becoming the “new greeting.” My response varies depending on my relationship with that person. With that said, I believe that it is rude not to reply. However, a reply is what you wish to disclose, not necessarily what they expect to hear.

Here are a few options on how to reply to this increasingly common question:

“I don’t discuss my medical decisions.” This could sound harsh or they may conclude that the answer is, no. You do have other options, however, it could encourage conversation, or worse, a lecture.

  • “I’m on the fence about it.” = You’ve just invited a pro/con appeal.
  • “Yes, I plan on it.” = Depending on their stance, expect a pro/con rant.
  • “No, I’m not getting it” = see above

To limit or avoid a potential argument or standing through a lecture, I suggest that you keep your medical decisions between your doctor and family. And as politely as possible, change the subject. More on this topic in my new book.

Final thoughts: If you choose to share the news and photos about getting the vaccine, that is great! Because this vaccine seems to have a political-connection, some individuals prefer to avoid the topic all together. Civility, respect, and knowing how to change the subject is key to keeping a conversation from swirling into a verbal battle.

“Keep Your Distance!” New situations. Different perspectives. Fervent opinions. We could all use a little guidance, tips and advice in a post-pandemic world. We can practice and spread civility even under trying times.



#askrosalinda is a new way to confidentially ask me about a dilemma.

Radio: NPR: How to handle evolving social interactions in a during COVID-19

Television: KTLA5: Post-Pandemic Awkward Situations

New Book: “Keep Your Distance! Your Guide to Handling Common…”


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