Ask Scary Mommy: My Family Wants To Gather Even Though Everyone’s Not Vaccinated

by Cassandra Stone
Amornrat Phuchom/Getty

Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.

This week: How do you navigate family gatherings when some members are vaccinated and others are not? Have your own questions? Email

Dear Scary Mommy,

My husband and I just received our second dose of the COVID vaccine, and, like many other people, are really looking forward to what that means as this year progresses compared to last year. But that doesn’t mean the pandemic no longer exists — not to mention our three kids aren’t vaccinated yet, obviously. But our extended families assume this means we’re ready to gather again and, well, we’re just…not. My aunt, who is more like a second mom to me, is turning 65 next month and my family wants to throw her a not-exactly-tiny-or-distanced surprise party. My in-laws are grilling my husband about Easter. And look, we’d love nothing more than to attend family gatherings like this because we’ve missed everyone desperately and could use the fun, frankly. But many members of our families work with the public, and many members are still unvaccinated themselves. I worry less about myself and my husband and more about my kids. It just doesn’t feel right. Not yet. But everyone’s getting on our case and I’m stressed.

I have a hunch this is going to be a really common issue for a lot of families this year, especially during the spring and summer. The good news is that millions of people are getting vaccinated — YAY! The not-so-good news is that numbers nationwide aren’t exactly low, and herd immunity can’t really be achieved until children are vaccinated, too.

As someone who recently just received her second dose as well, I know all too well that euphoric feeling of “okay, where are we going, what are we doing, who are we gonna see” because it was almost instantaneous for me. I’m not even a hugely social person, but my God this past year has been so damn isolating. I was surprised at how badly I was ready to Do Things Again the second that needle left my arm even though logic eventually killed that buzz.

Your families love you very much, presumably, or they wouldn’t be desperate to see you. And because they love you, they have to respect your decisions and your boundaries. Not to get all doom and gloom, but while we’re on the subject of buzzkills: This virus is hardly eradicated. And as more adults get vaccinated in the coming months, it won’t disappear. It’ll mutate and look for new hosts in the remaining unvaccinated population. And anyone who would be dismissive of the danger COVID-19 presents to children is either a total freaking ghoul or is just plain ignorant (whether willfully so or genuinely so, I can’t say).

But you and your husband do know the risks and the reality of the situation here, so I recommend remaining a united front and politely (and lovingly) but firmly declining any and all invites you don’t feel 100% comfortable attending. I’m also going to pretend your family isn’t throwing a giant party in the middle of a still-very-real pandemic, which is an abhorrent idea, no matter how lovely your aunt is.

Maybe you’re okay with small, outdoor gatherings with the kids when unvaccinated people are present? If so, plan something with both sides of your family that aligns with your boundaries and desires.