I'm going to tackle a controversial topic: marathons and their vaccine requirements.
Last November, the Boston Marathon announced that all runners for the 2022 race must be fully vaccinated. Other marathons, like New York City, have made similar announcements.
2021 Races: Vaccines not Required
For the large 2021 marathons, the vaccine was not a requirement. Participants must have either shown vaccination proof OR tested negative for Covid-19. A May 2021 article in the New York Times stated:
"The marathon announcements share something with seemingly every other major race that is set to return — there is no requirement for all runners to have a vaccination. Instead, runners have been asked to produce either proof of a completed vaccination series or a negative Covid test close to race day, even though health officials acknowledge that the safest environment would be a fully vaccinated field. . . Erin McLaughlin, a labor and employment lawyer specializing in health care, said running organizations might not want to require vaccinations because the nature of their operations might qualify their races as a place of 'public accommodation.' That would prohibit them from discriminating against people who may be medically unable to get a vaccine, and establishing eligibility for those exceptions could prove onerous and open the door for litigation."
Obviously much has changed since this article came out in May 2021. Vaccine mandates have since been established for many everyday activities including going to work.
I am vaccinated and boosted. I am not sharing this to convince others to do the same and in fact, one of my pet peeves is those Facebook profile picture frames that say "I'm vaccinated". Well, good for you!
I am not a vaccine expert. I am not a health expert. I am not an expert in other people's lives. So I am in no position to persuade others to get vaccinated. Furthermore, since I am vaccinated, I shouldn't have to worry about catching the virus from others.
That said, these Covid vaccines are not "vaccines" as we know them. I have always understood a vaccine to provide full immunity from a disease whereas these shots do not provide full immunity. Vaccinated individuals can still get the virus and spread it.
I chose to get the vaccine because I do not want to get Covid-19. I realize I could still get the virus. But the vaccine should make any infection less severe. I realize there is no guarantee, but I believe that the side effects from the vaccine are not as severe as the illness could be. I could take my chances with the shot, or take my chances with Covid. I chose to get the shot.
It's important to keep in mind that every individual is unique. Some people have no reaction to the shot. Some people get very ill. Some have allergic reactions. The same goes for Covid. Some people will have mild symptoms resembling a common cold. Others will have life-threatening symptoms. So while we can look at data and statistics to see general patterns, every individual is still unique in terms of how their body reacts to vaccines and viruses. Because we are all unique, I don't think I am in any position to tell other people what medical choices to make.
To sum up, I believe that the vaccine was the right choice for me. It may not be for other people, and I respect that.
2022 Marathon Mandates
As I said earlier, these mandates are highly controversial. When Boston announced its mandate, there was an eruption of backlash on social media with many runners saying they would not apply. Thus, the number of applicants for the 2022 race was much lower than in previous years. Is the vaccine mandate the only reason for this? No, there are are many reasons why runners might not be interested in the 2022 race. But based on the number of people who signed a petition against the mandate, it's apparent that this mandate contributed to the decreased number of applicants.
That said, the New York Times article above indicated that these mandates could be viewed as discrimination against those individuals who cannot get vaccinated. While the B. A. A. has created an exception for these cases, it has not been published what medical exemptions are acceptable.
It's not unheard of to require vaccines to participate sports. I had to have certain immunizations to be part of my high school dance team.
The New York Times article that I quoted above stated: "health officials acknowledge that the safest environment would be a fully vaccinated field." I am not a health official so I am in no position to disagree. BUT, as a logical thinker I do not see how a negative Covid test would not also provide the safest environment.
- The 2021 race with test option was not a super-spreader.
- Vaccinated individuals can still transmit Covid
- Without a test there is no way to know if runners have the virus, regardless of vaccination status
Are these mandates here to stay for future years? If Covid is somehow eradicated within the next year, will vaccines still be required? Have we set a precedent for vaccination requirements regardless of what the threat level is? Will the supreme court rule on the constitutionality of mandates? It's hard to know the answers to these questions.