Dear Amy: I have always been very private regarding health and medical issues. I don't want to discuss whether I've had a flu shot, mammogram, colonoscopy, etc.
I find these questions extremely intrusive. How do you suggest I respond to inquiries about the COVID-19 vaccine?
I've found people to be extremely aggressive in demanding to know what a person's plan is, even to the point of not wanting to associate with anyone who can't satisfy their nosiness about whether they've had the shots.
I understand that this is a contagious disease, a global pandemic and the nonstop media coverage increases the intensity of people's reactions, but the thought of having these pushy conversations makes my skin crawl. Any thoughts?
Amy says: I share your aversion to discussing medical issues.
However, your colonoscopy or mammogram status has absolutely no bearing or impact on anyone else's health. Your vaccination status might.
Mainly, the vaccination protects you from the more serious illness caused by COVID. But the vaccination also helps to protect others, because if you don't contract it, you won't be spreading it.
I can imagine how annoying it would be to face aggressive questioning and implied judgment about your vaccination status, but other people have the right to make their choice regarding how much contact they want to have with you.
Yes, without a doubt, nosy people will use the vaccination as an excuse to pry, but if you don't want to have an extended medical conversation, then don't.
Dear Amy: My brother and I moved together to a retirement home after his wife died.
Our plan was to enjoy our remaining lives — brother and sister living together — and share expenses.
It turned into a disaster, ending in his attacking me, causing serious injuries.
Management moved him immediately into the assisted-living section, where no-contact has been allowed during the pandemic.
Now my brother needs more help, so he has been moved out of assisted living and into a full-service nursing home.
Well-meaning friends have been offering to drive me there, as restrictions have been relaxed where he is living. But I do not care to visit! I question that my brother would even know or remember me. How should I respond to these nice friends?
Amy says: Starting with the pandemic risk, traveling between at-risk communities could expose both to the virus.
In terms of your personal risk, you are quite naturally reluctant to approach your brother. This is a logical and natural consequence of his attack. Your self-protective instincts are completely appropriate.
You don't say what his ailments are, but I think you would feel better if you knew his medical status. Try to connect with the medical director or a social worker at his nursing home to find out what his diagnosis is and how he is doing now.
Dementia can bring on violent surges in some people. The more you learn about this, the more understanding and forgiving you might be able to be.
Ask yourself, realistically, how you would feel if you never saw your brother again. If he died without you making an effort to resolve your own feelings toward him, would you regret it?
If you decide to visit, make sure another person is with you the entire time.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.