Ask Amy: In-Law May Bring Virus to Her Visit

By Amy Dickinson | April 23rd, 2021

A less-than-welcome addition these days

Don't bring virus with you on vacation!

Dear Amy: My wife’s sister moved away from our town last summer, relocating across the country to be with her grown son and his family — over 1,000 miles away.

We’ve always had a very good relationship with her and her family.

Her grown son and his wife have refused to be vaccinated.

They all got COVID in February.

My sister-in-law got one vaccination shot but refused to get the second dose.

Now she plans to come here to visit a friend who lives near us.

She wants to spend a day with my wife and to sleep over at our house.

My wife and I have been vaccinated, and so has our son.

She will be flying here and will not be able to quarantine because she is only going to be here for a few days.

The fact that she will not be fully vaccinated really bothers me. Are we in danger?

– Worried Brother-in-law

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Dear Worried: This is a question you should be asking your own physician or do your best to follow the (frequently evolving) guidelines issued by the CDC (

If I were in your identical situation with a fully vaccinated household, I would not worry about a brief visit from a not-fully vaccinated person, but you and your wife MUST make this choice based on your own comfort level and health concerns, and the guidelines in your state.

Your half-vaccinated sister-in-law could conceivably carry the virus to unvaccinated people, but even if you caught the virus, your vaccination is supposed to protect you from the severest form of this illness. That’s the benefit of vaccination!

Is your sister-in-law planning to ignore all the travel guidelines that should apply to her? Viral variants apparently affecting younger and healthier people might cause additional spikes.

Your sister-in-law claims to have already contracted COVID, and this might be her justification for not becoming fully vaccinated, but I would be skeptical about this. You should understand that – for whatever reason — she might be assuming a greater risk to her own health (and others’) than you are willing to assume for yours.

One way to handle this might be for you and your family members to welcome a visit with her, outside and distanced, but to decline to have her spend the night with you.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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