Vaccine Requirements

I’ve been asked to clarify whether or not I require someone to be vaccinated for an in-person session.

I do not require that you are vaccinated.

However, for the time being, I DO require that you wear a barrier between your respiratory system and mine, i.e. a mask, that you practice responsible hygiene, and don’t come for a session if you have been exposed or have been symptomatic (e.g. fever, body aches, coughing).

My reasons for this are based on science and a risk/benefit analysis.

The concerns we have with getting together to session are:

1. transmission, and

2. getting sick

Concern 1: While masks, like condoms, do not eliminate transmission they do reduce it. And the better your mask, the less transmission will occur. Some argue that masks “do not work”. This is likely a misunderstanding between a risk-elimination measure and a risk-reduction measure. Nothing eliminates risk except not having exposure to things that may carry the virus, people or otherwise.

Likewise, this vaccine, like other vaccines, does not eliminate transmission. You can be fully vaccinated and acquire and pass along the virus to others. (Also important to note is that it does not prevent mutation in a host.)

Concern 2: Also, like other vaccines, those available for the SARS-CoV2 virus do not have an 100% efficacy rate against illness. This means you can receive the vaccines and still develop COVID.

So, if our primary goal is to stop transmission between me and you, and the possibility of getting sick from this virus, the vaccine does not guarantee that. And while, on the other hand, masks also can’t guarantee they eliminate transmission, they’re a more non-invasive approach with many years of data showing they are safe for most people to use — especially for short periods of time. When wanting to reduce the above concerns, I feel masks are a very reasonable measure to require, with few — if any — adverse effects.

Furthermore, an important factor in making decisions about this vaccine is that there are no long-term studies on mRNA vaccines. None. Only short-term trials. The longest trial in experimental science, what is called a “phase 3 trial”, is the one going on right now, with everyone on the planet. Typically, it takes 5 – 10 years to conduct research and gather some level of sufficient data to determine if something can be considered “safe”. These vaccines don’t even have one year of data in human subjects.

When running medical experiments scientists look for many things. Aside from a treatment’s efficacy, they look for any complications, such as long-term effects (e.g. is there a correlation between the treatment and the development of an illness) and contraindications (e.g. is there a correlation between people with pre-existing conditions or on certain medications and adverse effects). Sometimes they find that certain treatments put people at varying levels of risk for complications or death, which are the warnings you hear when medications are advertised (i.e. “may cause lightheadedness, seizures, or suicidal ideation”). This data is not yet available for these vaccines; it is being gathered now.

Without long-term data we simply do not know how truly safe this vaccine is. We are being told it is safe because they are generalizing this mRNA vaccine with all vaccines (which work differently!); and they want us to take it, for research purposes and because they hope it will work, not because they can guarantee it is actually safe. Because of this, my beliefs about bodily autonomy, the fact that there are people walking around who have been exposed to this virus and have natural immunity (i.e. no need for a vaccine), and my own concern that a vaccine I received over 25 years ago may have been a factor in a chronic health condition I have struggled with since that time, I cannot, in good conscience, make it a requirement. I feel that this is a deeply personal decision which involves a risk/benefit consideration for each person.

So, if you can’t or don’t want to receive this vaccine, I support your right to make that choice. (Likewise, if you do choose to receive it.) However, I do need you to wear a sufficient mask — and also practice smart hygiene — if you come to visit me. If you are unwilling to do that, then I will need you to come back to me after we are past this period.