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How to Ask Someone If They’re Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Two women walking in a park with face masks on.

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Key Takeaways

  • It’s tricky but ultimately necessary to ask someone whether they’ve gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 before meeting up.
  • Your approach in bringing up the topic should vary depending on who it is you’re talking to.
  • If they tell you that they are unvaccinated, you can make an informed decision about your gathering or appointment with them.

Now that around 60% of adults in America have received at least one dose of the vaccine, more people are re-entering public spaces and doing activities that were previously limited. However, as you plan long-awaited gatherings and schedule important appointments, it’s crucial to talk about COVID-19 vaccination status with others.

It may be a tricky topic for some, but it’s important to discuss prior to any scheduled meet-up. When asking about someone’s vaccination status, your approach will generally vary depending on who you’re talking to. Here’s how you can politely bring up the topic in a conversation.

How to Ask Someone if They've Been Vaccinated

When asking about someone's COVID-19 vaccination status, it's important to choose your words wisely and avoid being accusatory. Let them know why it matters to you and how it factors in with your decision-making. Conversations about the vaccine should be direct, but not confrontational.

“Always remember that there are some people who have compromised immune systems and others that are unable to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” Jackson Higginbottom, MPH, COVID-19 communications coordinator at the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, tells Verywell. “These people remain susceptible to COVID-19 infection, so if you are unsure if the people you plan to interact with are protected against COVID-19—including indoor public places like a restaurant or religious services—wear a mask.”

Healthcare Providers

Because of the need to stay at home during the pandemic, many individuals put off necessary medical treatments and regular checkups. Now, people may feel more comfortable seeking the care that they need, as long as their healthcare providers are fully vaccinated.

“When setting up an appointment with a healthcare provider—or other service provider—it’s very appropriate to ask if the staff has been vaccinated, and what their policies are around masking indoors,” Elizabeth A. Stuart, PhD, professor of mental health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, tells Verywell.

Some healthcare providers may inform you right off the bat whether they have been vaccinated, but if not, you can approach them and ask questions such as:

  • Does your institution or health system have a COVID-19 vaccine mandate?
  • What safety precautions do you have in place to protect you and your patients? 
  • Would I be interacting with any unvaccinated staff during my appointment?

“Once you have this information, you can make an informed decision about how and where you get care,” Higginbottom says. “Every person should evaluate their own situation to make informed decisions about the risks and benefits of seeking a different health care provider. For some, seeking a different healthcare provider isn’t an option due to lack of access or availability of other providers.”

Colleagues

Many businesses that allowed for remote work during the pandemic are now encouraging their employees to come to work in person. This may be complicated especially if you don’t know whether your coworkers are vaccinated.

To get an idea about people’s vaccination status in the workplace, you can start by looking into your company’s COVID-19 policies. Check any announcements or memos for information about vaccine mandates or safety protocols in place.

“When discussing vaccination status in the workplace, it might be good to start at the top by asking your employer if employees are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Higginbottom says. “If employees aren’t required, you can ask what precautions they are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at work. Express any concerns you have about working with colleagues that are not vaccinated with your employer.”

You can also continue to wear a face mask and practice social distancing if that makes you more comfortable when returning to the workplace.

Friends and Acquaintances

Navigating the conversation of COVID-19 vaccination might still be a bit difficult among close friends. 

“With friends, it can be framed as wanting to help plan activities accordingly,” Stuart says. “It is important to be open and transparent to understand where each person is coming from and what their comfort levels are, and then respect that there may be differences in those comfort levels, like for indoor activities or large groups.”

Various activities pose different risks, and knowing whether someone else is vaccinated puts all parties on the same page when making plans. You can also offer your own vaccination status first to segue the conversation into asking about theirs. If you’re about to see someone you don’t know well, like a date or a new friend, it’s best to be direct. Just ask them about their vaccination status and let them know what your boundaries are in regards to meeting up.

Higginbottom recommends saying something along the lines of, “I’m fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but I prefer to wear my mask around those that aren’t fully protected. Are you fully vaccinated against COVID-19?” This shows that you’re wearing a mask for their safety and you’d prefer to continue doing so unless they are fully vaccinated. 

What This Means For You

Before meeting up with anyone—whether it’s your healthcare provider, friends, or coworkers—knowing their COVID-19 vaccination status is important. If they are unvaccinated, you can adjust your plans or appointments accordingly, depending on your personal comfort. If you want to help encourage hesitant people in your life to get vaccinated, our COVID-19 vaccine Healthy Conversation Coach can guide you through what to say—and what not to say—to someone expressing aversion toward the vaccines.

What Should You Do If They’re Not Vaccinated?

In general, it can be helpful to speak from your own perspective when asking anyone about their vaccination status. Stuart suggests saying, “For my own comfort level and safety it would be helpful to know if you are vaccinated.”

However, if they tell you that they’re not vaccinated against COVID-19, it’s up to you whether you choose to see another healthcare provider or postpone a friendly gathering. You can politely let them know that you are not comfortable meeting up with them and would rather meet under different circumstances.

“You can certainly adjust your activities,” Stuart says. “This might be particularly important if you have high-risk individuals at home who have not yet been vaccinated themselves—like children under 12 years old—or whose bodies don’t have a full immune response to the vaccine. For example, you can keep your mask on, move the activities outdoors, wait to see that person until case counts are low in your immediate community, and/or keep the numbers small.” 

Experts say that it’s normal for people to have questions and concerns about a new vaccine. It's best to be understanding if someone says that they have no plans of getting vaccinated at all.

According to Higginbottom, you should ask open-ended questions to explore their concerns and identify the source of their information. Once you have a better understanding of the questions they have in mind, you can ask permission to share information from trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the local health department that addresses their concerns.

“You should never ask someone about their vaccination status with the intent to debate or shame them into getting vaccinated,” he adds. “While you may be well-informed and fully vaccinated, not everyone has access to the same information and resources as you do. That being said, you may want to know the vaccination status of those you’re interacting with.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID data tracker. Updated June 1, 2021.