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Ask Amy: In-law might bring a stowaway virus on her visit

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 coronavirus 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 going to be here only for a few days.

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

— Worried Brother-in-law

Worried Brother-in-Law: 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 coronavirus, 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.

Dear Amy: A little over a year and a half ago, my mother became ill, spent two weeks in ICU, another week in the hospital and then moved on to a rehabilitation center.

During that time, her brother (who never married and does not have any children) had to have open-heart surgery.

My husband and I had the total responsibility of caring for them, in addition to caring for our own young children.

I called my first cousin to let her know that my mom and great-uncle (her aunt and great-uncle) were in the hospital.

Her deceased father was their older brother, and they had been very good about checking on her parents and helping them before their deaths.

My cousin never called back to check on either my mom or our uncle.

I have been genuinely shocked by her lack of concern about their welfare.

Then this week I received an invitation to her daughter's wedding.

I am flabbergasted that she would have the audacity to send an invitation to family that she obviously cares so little about.

What is an appropriate response to this situation?

— Frustrated First Cousin

Frustrated First Cousin: My sense is that your cousin has not linked the two events (these illnesses and the wedding invitation) that are so important to you.

Please, be honest with her! Reach out to her, saying, “Mom and great-uncle Joe seem to be recovering from their health emergencies. I have to be honest with you; this has been a very rough time. Why haven’t you been in touch before now?”

Dear Amy: Like so many others, I found out about a half sister after a relative did their DNA profile.

We've met, and she is very nice.

I was 9 when my mother took a six-month "business trip."

I still remember this time. Abandoned and scared feelings were brushed off by the family members I was living with. I'm 66 years old, and those feelings persist to this day.

Be careful with those tests. It changed the way I see myself and family.

— Been There

Been There: I’m highlighting these DNA discovery stories so readers can see the variety of experiences people have when confronted with this news.

2021 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency