Is It OK to Ban Anti-Vaxxer Grandparents From Seeing Vulnerable Grandkids
The most pandemic-times question we’ve seen in ages is currently gaining attention on the UK-based parenting forum, Mumsnet. On the site’s Am I Being Unreasonable (AIBU) subforum, one mom is concerned that she’s off-base for disallowing her unvaccinated in-laws to visit the kids. Coming on the same day that the CDC has released info suggesting vaccinated people may visit with unvaccinated people unmasked — provided the unvaccinated are at low risk for severe disease — this topic made our ears perk up for sure.
“My PIL are anti-vaccine, conspiracy theorists (don’t think COVID exists). They are refusing to get the vaccine. I have a 3-year-old and 5-month-old,” wrote the original poster who said she’s using a throwaway account because, “I’m sure that IABU and I’m a bit scared of the fallout!”
She continued: “The 3-year-old goes to nursery, but other than that we are incredibly careful and follow all rules. My 5-month-old hasn’t met anyone because we are staying safe.”
After knowing people who have suffered particularly bad cases of COVID, this mom has been trying extra hard to keep her kids healthy, and she thinks that may mean barring those anti-vaxxers from her home.
“AIBU to say to my in-laws that if they don’t have the vaccine, I won’t see them, and they won’t be seeing the grandchildren?” she asked. “Or is that a really shitty thing to do?”
OP then added a little bit more flavor to the question. “For context, I have never got on with them,” she wrote. “They are extremely controlling. My husband has a very poor relationship with them. But our daughter loves her grandparents, so we make sure they have a good relationship. My PIL are both still working, in offices, so exposed every day. If I see my PIL I don’t think I could see my own parents in the following two weeks because they are vulnerable (though have been vaccinated).”
It’s a great question, and we will pretty much always support parents doing what they think is right to protect their children and themselves in situations like this.
Most of the Mumsnet commenters agree with us, but there are a few who think OP is being totally unreasonable. “That is an unbelievably controlling thing to do. You and your children are very low risk. If your parents have been vaccinated they are low risk. If you don’t want to see them, then don’t see them. But trying to bully people into medical treatment that they don’t want makes you a dick,” wrote commenter ChloeCrocodile while kind of missing the point of the question.
“YABU the vaccine doesn’t stop you from getting it, or transmitting it, just means you won’t be as ill and end up in hospital. So really whether they have it or not will not affect you,” wrote MotherChicken — though she actually doesn’t have all the facts there.
There is still incomplete information about whether vaccines prevent transmission, though it looks likely. Also, current evidence shows that being vaccinated doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get sick, but if you do get sick, you shouldn’t get as sick as you would’ve without the vaccine. Vaccines work by encouraging your body to create antibodies, which fight interlopers like viruses and bacterial infections. If you are exposed to COVID but have no antibodies, your chances of getting sick are pretty high. About two weeks post-vaccination, your body has had time to create antibodies, so if you’re exposed they can mount a defense against infection. That might mean the antibodies wipe the virus completely out, or they might only wipe out a percentage of the virus particles.
Research shows that people who have been vaccinated and still get infected have one-quarter the virus load as an unvaccinated person, so their chance of developing severe symptoms is dramatically lower.
In short, vaccines are good and we should all get them, and OP has every right to decide when the in-laws get to visit (vaccine or no vaccine).
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