Debate Over Vaccines, Mask Wearing Leaves US Families Split

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Physical therapist Aimee Schuh, 31, will get married in September in an outdoor ceremony in South Carolina, after having to reschedule her wedding twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As with most pre-pandemic weddings, there will be dancing. But there will also be masks and hand sanitiser available for guests, who are requested to be vaccinated, if possible, to keep others safe. Ms Schuh said several guests are undergoing cancer treatment or have an autoimmune disorder, while other relatives and friends will be bringing infants who cannot be vaccinated, including her newborn niece, who will be only about a month old at the wedding. "I already know I'm going to get family members calling me, telling me it's their choice. And yes, I understand that's your choice. You don't have to be vaccinated to come. But we are going to ask you to wear a mask, because we just don't want that virus spreading to those at risk if we can avoid it," Ms Schuh told The Straits Times. She reckons that just the vaccination request would deter some family members from turning up. "Honestly, I'm okay with it. If you're not willing to protect my newborn niece, you're not welcome," she said. Buoyed by rising vaccination rates, the United States has increasingly rolled back its mask requirements in recent weeks. On May 13, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention declared that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks, whether indoors or outdoors, in most situations. Other states followed suit and eased their own mask and social distancing requirements, as did businesses across the country. This essentially replaced mask mandates with an honour system of trusting that those not wearing masks really had been vaccinated. But that has left many Americans who want to be cautious, like Ms Schuh, having to navigate how to interact with sceptical loved ones who doubt the need for vaccinations or masks. Others never believed in the severity of Covid-19 to begin with.

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