With the advent of the Delta variant and the rollout of further vaccinations, we seem to be back to where we were earlier this year. But there are some differences from early 2020. For one, the delta variant has proven to be more contagious and more deadly.
The goal post has moved, and now there is a recommendation to get a third or booster shot if you fall into an age group of over sixty-five or have pre-existing conditions. Responding to the pandemic has become divisive in families and has resulted in tension within the family of origin and extended family members. Families consider the risks when they gather for special events and, certain members may refuse to attend, or cancel events, often with the accompanying hard feelings. Parents continue to struggle with managing young adults safely at home. Over fifty percent of young adults between the ages of 18-29 are living at home today.
On the positive side, a vaccine exists, and seventy-five percent of adults have received at least their first shot (64.3% are fully vaccinated). Most of those who received the two initial doses expect to sign up for the booster. Vaccines continue to work for the millions of Americans who have lined up for shots in the arm. Home is a safer place these days but there continue to be young adults and even some parents who are resistant to vaccinations. When parents get vaccinated, but the young adult does not and leaves the house for work or meeting friends and returns home, the parent is at risk. In one of my young adult parent situations, her son contracted the virus but stayed in the basement until he tested negative, considering the threat to his mother. Not all young adults exhibit this level of sensitivity.
As I discuss my personal experience, I have no political bias or intent. I’m part of a larger health care community responding to the physical and emotional effects of this virus on families. My youngest sister has declined vaccination, and we had to make special arrangements when we met in May at a memorial service for my mother. My sister was very accommodating in wearing a mask and maintaining a physical distance. I greatly appreciate unvaccinated people showing concern for others by wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding dense crowds, washing hands, etc. Although mandates are the news these days, vaccination remains a choice.
I recently began seeing an MD functional medicine doctor for a health concern where I didn’t believe the Western Medicine approach was proving to be effective. On my initial visit, he announced he was not vaccinated and belittled the fact that I was. His website contained recommendations for vitamins to ward off the virus and anecdotal information on Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus should one become infected. After a blood draw and analysis, I scheduled a follow-up session with him. Shortly before this planned meeting, his support person called and canceled and indicated that this doctor was at a family event and became infected with COVID. I set up another appointment for the following week. This time, his support person called to indicate that he had passed away three days earlier of complications from COVID. It was shocking news since I believed this doctor had researched and identified alternative ways to prevent and deal with COVID. It reminded me of how deadly this virus is particularly for this doctor who was in my age group. Yesterday, I got my Moderna booster.
What can Parents do?
I tell these stories in hopes that these may influence parents and young adults who have not pursued vaccinations to reconsider this decision or consider wearing masks and observing protocols to prevent the spread. Vaccinated parents need to take a stand regarding the risks of an unvaccinated young adult in the home. The research indicates a significantly reduced risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death for those who are vaccinated. Parents need to assess the risk they are willing to take in having such a young adult in the home particularly if unvaccinated if either or both are unvaccinated. There is a much greater comfort level at this stage for vaccinated parents than during the first wave of the pandemic when there was no vaccination. Vaccination and choices related to being in proximity with others, whether at home or outside the home, remain a choice. That said, parents have a right and responsibility to establish specific guidelines for living at home. In a separate blog, I have identified certain non-negotiables for living at home, such as no stealing, violence, threats, destruction of property. I think parents should establish firm expectations for unvaccinated young adults who are living at home. If their young adult does not meet these expectations, the parents need to help them find a different place.
I had reservations about writing this blog since vaccinations have become such a divisive issue. Still, I wanted to share my experience to encourage reconsideration if you or other family members are not vaccinated. Also, to support vaccinated parents who seek guidance in managing unvaccinated young adults in the home. If you have identified some creative solutions to the vaccinated/unvaccinated home experience of parents of young adults, please share this with me. You can write me directly at email@example.com on comment below. Also, there are several articles that related to parents and young adults responding to the pandemic. Here are the titles and links if you wish to learn more:
- Help! We’re Stuck in the House with Our Adolescent & Young Adult Children!
- What Stories Will We Tell About the Pandemic?
- Coronavirus is a Mental Health Challenge for Parents and Young Adults – What Can Parents Do?
- Parental Stress in the Era of COVID-19
- A Holiday Divided Under the COVID-19 Cloud
- Parents Overwhelmed by the Pandemic – Take A Big Picture Approach