I'm vaccinated, but my boyfriend isn't. This is what happens when there are differentiated measures.

My boyfriend’s decision has caused tensions in our relationship, due to the vaccination-differentiated measures.

Mothership | August 21, 2021, 09:42 AM

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PERSPECTIVE: On Aug. 6, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced that, along with relaxing some safe distancing measures, Singapore would begin vaccination-differentiated measures from Aug. 10. But what happens when one party in the relationship has not gotten their vaccination yet?


Being fully vaccinated since June this year, I was thrilled to finally be able to eat out, after what seemed like ages of dealing with take-aways and deliveries.

But my initial excitement was quickly dampened when I realised that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of these perks with my boyfriend, who refuses to get vaccinated (with Pfizer or Moderna, at least).

Our different views on the vaccine, and subsequently our decisions on whether to take it or not, have never really been a problem — up till now.

Over the last couple of weeks, I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed at him for what seemed like him holding us back from enjoying dates together.

Our prior discussions about this issue haven’t always been amicable, and the issue is something that we are still grappling with.

We sat down for a (much calmer) conversation about his decision, and the potential impact of this decision on our relationship. Here's how our conversation went.

Me: When did you first decide that you weren’t going to get vaccinated? How did you come to this decision?

Boyfriend: I think I first decided when the Pfizer vaccine was undergoing development and when I saw the haste at which it was being developed.

I felt uneasy because there wasn't enough data to support taking mRNA vaccines. My main concern is that you don’t know what the long-term effects are and that it seems rather pointless to be taking such a vaccine when you could put it off and get a better vaccine in the future.

I would say I’m definitely more inclined to take non-mRNA vaccines (such as Sinovac, Sinopharm, or Novavax).

Did you consider how your decision to not get vaccinated would affect me, or our relationship?

I mean I did consider it, of course. But I felt that it wouldn’t make much of a difference to our dates. Whether we go to a restaurant or a hawker centre, I don’t feel like it would affect the quality of our dates as much because we’re still spending time with each other.

Like, I don’t feel that there’s much that we can’t do, except for going out to restaurants, because I’m not vaccinated. I didn’t feel like that would be a major issue.

I mean I definitely felt a bit sian because I felt like we were being held back from doing a lot of things.

Like what?

Like eating out, for example. Going out to a new restaurant is something that we like to do on dates.

And also because of the measures a month before, we’ve had to dabao food or eat at home for so long. Now that the measures are lifted for vaccinated people, it just feels extra sian that I won’t be able to do that with you. Especially when I see everyone else being able to go out.

I understand that. I’m sorry, but what can I do?

Get vaccinated lor *laughs*.

No thank you!

Actually, why do you trust Sinovac, Sinopharm and Novavax more than Pfizer and Moderna?

In general, I think that these types of vaccines are tried and tested, compared to mRNA vaccines. And that’s a given, right? Because we understand the technology and the long-term side effects of whole-virus and protein vaccines, but not mRNA vaccines.

I don’t think I would be opposed to an mRNA vaccine, like Pfizer, for example, if there were long-term data on it. But you just wouldn’t have that data until at least five years from now.

Did you feel like I wasn’t being understanding when I was expressing my frustration towards you about your decision not to get vaccinated?

Yes definitely, I felt annoyed that you weren’t being understanding towards me. I felt like you didn’t really understand my thought process behind why I didn’t want to get it. I would’ve liked for you to accept my decision.

Oh yeah, for sure la, I thought that your decision-making process was flawed. I thought that you didn’t wanna get vaccinated because you read too many conspiracy theories.

Yeah, I was definitely annoyed by that.

Do you think we’ve been able to respect each other’s decisions about whether we want to get vaccinated?

I know I’ve respected your decision just fine; I never had an issue with it. I’m all for people getting the vaccine if they want. You want to get the vaccine just get la, just don’t ask me to get it.

I don't have a moral angle here. Take it or not, it's up to you.

But then how do you reconcile your own hesitancy towards getting the vaccine and my decision to get it?

When it comes to the potential side effects, I am concerned about you, for sure. I'll be quite sad if you were to suffer any side effects. But I can understand your decision to take the vaccine. It’s your decision, I don’t have a problem with it.

Do you think my decision-making process was flawed, then?

I don’t think it was flawed, but I think you could have afforded to wait. Because what has the vaccine afforded you? There’s nothing you have done from the time you’ve gotten the vaccine till now, that you couldn’t have done because you were vaccinated. Correct?

I’ve been able to go out to restaurants, and meet my (vaccinated) friends.

Okay, fair. But I definitely think you could’ve afforded to wait another six months, see how things pan out, see what other developments there are, and then come to a decision.

I think that you not getting vaccinated as a personal decision is fine. You are probably at a lower risk of getting Covid-19 because you aren’t working in industries where you are constantly exposed to people, nor are you typically around people who might be exposed to the virus. Ultimately, I was more annoyed at the fact that we can’t go out.

Yeah I don’t recall you that ever told me to take it because of my safety or whatever. I think most of our arguments centred around the going out issue.

What about not being able to travel together?

I remember we had this conversation way back, about how there are going to be vaccine passports or travel restrictions for unvaccinated people in the future. Regarding how we weren’t going to be able to travel together, and I asked you, “Are you okay with that? That you can’t travel with me, even though I really want to go on a holiday with you?” Do you remember that conversation?

Yeah, I just told you to go by yourself.

But I wanted to go with you. So you were okay with not going on holidays with me?

Yeah. I mean, I meant it.

*Laughs*

I mean it’s not that I didn’t wanna go with you, but it’s that I can’t. And I am willing to make that sacrifice.

But you’re sacrificing an experience for the both of us. Did you consider how I would feel about not being able to go out or travel with my boyfriend?

I did la, but I was more concerned about my safety. I definitely understand where you’re coming from. It’s just that I chose to value my safety more.

So it’s more like we had our own cost-benefit analyses, when it came to deciding whether we should get vaccinated or not.

Yeah exactly, we both prioritise things a little differently. So you prioritise being able to go out, travel, and do all these things, and you place less importance on the potential long-term side effects.

Whereas I prioritise my long-term health, and I care less about going out. I’m a homebody.

And by the way, I’m not doubting that the vaccines work, they do work. It’s just that I don’t think I should be taking a vaccine that could be bad for me in the long run.

Now that the restrictions have been announced, were there any situations where we had to face the consequences of the both of us not being vaccinated? Do you feel it's worth it?

I don’t think there have been any major consequences. Okay, we can’t go to restaurants, or (vaccinated-only) cinemas, but that’s about it, I feel. There’s nothing that made me think “Wah, I really wish I was vaccinated”.

I think also that’s because we’ve found other ways to accommodate your decision.

Yeah, like the picnics, hawker centres, or hanging out at home. So I still don’t feel like it’s a big deal.

What about stuff like concerts that I want to go to with you?

That one a bit bopian (no choice) la, you have to go without me. Aiya, but who’s touring now, who’s coming to Singapore now anyways?

I don’t know, maybe in like four months’ time?

Well, maybe. If that’s really the case, then the pre-event swab rule should still apply. I’ll just go get swabbed, it’s not a big deal. If I really want to go for something I’ll definitely be willing to get swabbed.

What do you think our path forward looks like, both ideologically and logistically?

Do you plan on getting vaccinated? Do you think that this difference in opinion will continue to come up as an issue in our relationship, and in what cases?

I think it would come up again if the measures were changed. Like if, for instance, the situation gets worse, and they don’t allow unvaccinated people to visit hawker centres, then I guess it would be an issue.

I do plan on getting vaccinated, eventually. I’m looking at good vaccine alternatives, so given a good alternative, I would take it.

Vaccines like Sinopharm and Novavax seem pretty good to me, so when they become available in Singapore, I would be willing to take them.

I don’t think our path would be that affected in the long run, because I see myself getting vaccinated eventually. By the time travel comes up, I see myself getting vaccinated by then.

So I guess in the meantime we’ll just live with this current arrangement? Until the vaccines that you think are okay become available here?

Yeah, it seems like it.

Do you foresee that the next couple of months will be hard?

Well I think there might be frustrations on your end, if there’s some things we can’t do together. But *laughs* hopefully, it won’t be too bad. Hopefully we’ll be able to work around what it is we want to do.

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