Jennifer Aniston parted ways with people who refused to get vaccinated. Why the COVID-19 crisis continues to spark social rifts.

·5-min read

With nearly 30 percent of U.S. adults remaining unvaccinated — and a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey finding that 46 percent of unvaccinated adults have no intention of changing their mind — some of those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are drawing a line in the sand. Among them is actress Jennifer Aniston, who revealed in a new interview with InStyle that she's cut ties with people in her life because they won't get vaccinated

"There's still a large group of people who are anti-vaxxers or just don't listen to the facts," Aniston says in the magazine's September issue. "It's a real shame. I've just lost a few people in my weekly routine who have refused or did not disclose [whether or not they had been vaccinated], and it was unfortunate. I feel it's your moral and professional obligation to inform, since we're not all podded up and being tested every single day. It's tricky because everyone is entitled to their own opinion — but a lot of opinions don't feel based in anything except fear or propaganda."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 19: Jennifer Aniston attends the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Jennifer Aniston, pictured here on the red carpet, says she's distanced herself from people who are unvaccinated. (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Aniston, who has used her platform to encourage both masking and vaccinations throughout the pandemic, did not clarify whether these individuals were friends, employees or service providers. 

When faced with criticism for her comments, Aniston took to Instagram to defend her stance. 

A screenshot from Jennifer Aniston's Instagram featuring a photo of the actress wearing a mask with the caption
A screenshot from Jennifer Aniston's Instagram featuring a photo of the actress wearing a mask with the caption "these comments." (Photo: @jenniferaniston/Instagram)
A screenshot from Jennifer Aniston's Instagram responding to a commenter who questioned her stance.
A screenshot from Jennifer Aniston's Instagram responding to a commenter who questioned her stance. "We have to care about more than just ourselves here," she wrote. (Photo: @jenniferaniston/Instagram)

Someone who asked: "But if [Aniston's] vaccinated she's protected correct? Why be worried about [having unvaxxed people] around her?"

And Aniston responded, "Because if you have the variant, you are still able to give it to me. I may get slightly sick but I will not be admitted to a hospital and or die. BUT I CAN give it to someone who does not have the vaccine and whose health is compromised (or has a previous existing condition) — and therefore I would put their lives at risk."

She added, "THAT is why I worry. We have to care about more than just ourselves."

But she's certainly not the only vaccinated person taking a firm stand, especially as the Delta variant causes new spikes across the country.

Bars, gyms — in New York City, you'll now need to show proof of vaccination to work out, dine or watch a movie indoors — colleges and workplaces, from hospitals to Disney parks, are each day setting new vaccine mandates. Even working in a band can be subject to rigorous standards, as Offspring drummer Pete Parada recently discovered. This week the musician posted a lengthy statement on Twitter announcing the "unfortunate and difficult news" that he'd been sidelined from the pop-punk band's upcoming tour because he has elected to not be vaccinated. (Parada cited his medical history with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) as the root of his vaccine hesitancy, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that individuals who have previously had GBS can still be vaccinated against COVID-19, adding that "to date, no cases of GBS have been reported following vaccination in participants in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.")

Offspring drummer Pete Parada will not tour with the band because of his vaccine hesitancy. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)
Offspring drummer Pete Parada will not tour with the band because of his vaccine hesitancy. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)

Parada noted in his announcement that he was "unable to comply with what is increasingly becoming an industry mandate." The same Kaiser Family Foundation survey cited above, meanwhile, found that 3 percent of all respondents would get vaccinated if required to do so.

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For now, many folks — and the places where they work, study and spend their leisure time — are at something of a stalemate. It stands to reason that the social conflicts between the vaccinated and unvaccinated that we've already seen (and reported on previously) will continue to wreak havoc on relationships, both personal and professional, though experts advise against perceiving these boundaries as a personal attack. 

"Everyone has to navigate their own comfort level and to advocate for their own personal safety and feelings of security," therapist Hannah Tishman, vice-president of operations for the New York City-based Cobb Psychotherapy, told Yahoo Life in late June. "That might look different for each person based on their own lived experiences, health history and personal beliefs and values. Everyone has had a different experience during the pandemic, some experiencing a higher level of trauma than others. It's important that we come from a place of understanding and not judgment when we learn of others' choices regarding their vaccinations.

"What makes one person feel safe may make another feel unsafe, and visa versa," she adds. "There are strong feelings involved as we recover from the pandemic and it can be helpful to express what makes you feel safe and your own needs to loved ones, instead of projecting what you expect from others onto them."

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