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How to talk to unvaccinated loved ones about the importance of distancing

If you're immunized, it's important to explain to unvaccinated relatives that why you're socially distancing again is to protect them.

SAN ANTONIO — With the Delta variant spreading rapidly across the U.S. and south Texas, more and more people are social distancing from those they love. 

But not everyone is on the same page. And we aren't only looking at ways to keep those relationships with family and friends intact, but to understand who really needs to distance from who and why.

"Your vaccination will protect you against getting very sick, being hospitalized or dying—even if the virus gets into your body," said Dr. Harry Croft, a psychiatrist. 

But if your loved ones are not vaccinated, experts are recommending you distance from them to protect them. 

"They could even be hospitalized or die because of the severity of their illness, because they're unvaccinated," Croft said. 

A study released by the Centers for Disease Control described 469 Massachusetts residents who were infected in an outbreak of the virus after July Fourth on Cape Cod. 74%, or 346 people had been fully vaccinated; of those, 79% reported symptoms, with the Delta variant accounting for the majority. 

The study also found that viral loads were similar among 127 full vaccinated people and 84 who were unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or unknown. The viral load determines how easily you can spread the virus to others. 

So if you're vaccinated, how do you explain to others who aren't why you're keeping your distance? 

"'Because you're not vaccinated, I'm worried that I could give it to you,'" Croft recommends saying. "'And I care about you guys and I don't want that to happen.'"

Croft says it's a good idea to approach the conversation gingerly, as the issue has become an emotionally charged one.

"'By always talking about what I know, what I've heard, what I've read and my concern for you makes it such that this is the reason I'm talking to you like I'm talking to you.'"   

The finding in that Cape Cod study that the Delta variant resulted in similar viral loads was a pivotal discovery leading to the CDC's latest change in mask guidance recommending masking indoors for everyone. 

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