“I dread Christmas. Hubby Won’t Get Bitten ‘: Families Split Over Covid Vaccines As They Plan Holiday Reunions

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Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time, but for many families, it can highlight divisions between parents, children or siblings and bring unresolved tensions to the surface. This year adds a particular problem to that dynamic – whether or not individual family members are vaccinated.

Olivia, 23, Manchester

My mom is in her 60s and has been anti-vaccine her whole life. I wasn’t vaccinated for anything until I was an adult.

My parents are divorced and I have three siblings. My two sisters are not vaccinated either, but my brother and my father are vaccinated like me.

My mother is worried about finding her children vaccinated at Christmas. She thinks that our vaccines might “leak” into her body, which is ridiculous. And my father, who is 59, does not want to house his unvaccinated children indoors at Christmas. He wants us all to exchange gifts with him outside and do a PCR test first.

My two unvaccinated siblings and I finally decided that the three of us were going to spend Christmas together at my sister’s house. My vaccinated brother will spend it with his children but will come to see us. He’s had Covid, so he feels invincible, and I’m young, healthy, and vaccinated, so I think my personal risk is low.

We will all do lateral flow tests before we meet, and none of us have any pre-existing medical conditions.

On the one hand, I’m glad I’m not spending Christmas with my parents, because all the talk about the vaccine and Covid can be a bit overwhelming. It will be nice to spend it with my brothers and sisters. But at the same time, I think it’s a shame – and both my parents are upset about it, especially my dad. He really wants all of his kids to be immunized and we all have Christmas dinner together.

Emma, ​​30, Hertfordshire

Neither my father, who is a well-educated professional with a chronic health problem, nor my mother-in-law, who works for the NHS, are vaccinated. They are both in their sixties.

I’m going to meet them over Christmas for the bare minimum of time – just an hour or so – in an effort to keep a normal relationship going. If it was another day, I wouldn’t see them, but because it’s Christmas, I feel obligated to do so.

I had dozens of conversations with my dad, trying to get him to get the shot. I also wrote him long emails, questioning the source data of the articles he sent me. He gets his information from Facebook and Telegram groups, from people like David Icke and Piers Corbyn, and from random websites selling herbal remedies.

My brother is not going to visit my father this year as he usually does. We’ll be visiting her last, after first going to see my vulnerable mom and in-laws – we had to plan it like that.

The reason I see it is to keep the peace and because I don’t want our relationship to die. But my dad and seven-year-old daughter adore each other, and I’m afraid when they see each other, she’ll give him Covid.

I almost came to accepting that he will get sick and die, before that happens. There are plenty of cases in his school.

I wish there was more acceptance that it’s okay to change your mind about the vaccine; that in fact, a decision you made a year ago doesn’t have to be a decision you continue to stick to. It would be my year if my dad said: on second thought, I was wrong about the risks, or I really want to see my son, and I’m going to get vaccinated. It would be the ultimate Christmas present.

Angela, 58, Cornwall

I have multiple sclerosis and am fully vaccinated, but my husband, who is in his 60s and suffers from several chronic conditions, is not vaccinated. He won’t even wear a mask.

He will also not be tested for Covid, so that means that at Christmas we cannot go visit his father, who is 90 years old and lives in a care home. They haven’t seen each other for two years.

I had a lot of very long arguments with my husband about the vaccine. I sent him articles from Guardian and the Observer, and for several months I tried to persuade him that he was wrong. But I have completely given up now. I am fed up with all that. I tell him I don’t want to know his theories, and ignore him when he tells me about it.

My mother, who is 89 years old, comes to our house for Christmas. Even though she is fully vaccinated, I am very nervous about it. Her point of view is: she lived through the war: she can outlive my husband.

I find the situation very painful and frustrating. It’s also exhausting – I find I constantly oscillate between feeling angry with my husband and worrying that he might catch Covid.

Some names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those interviewed

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