Vaccine Requirements, Age, and Fairness

November 2nd, 2021
contra, covid-19
In talking about potentially resuming contra dancing, with a vaccination requirement, one reaction I've received from several people is that it's not fair to start until everyone can get vaccinated. The idea is that since some people are younger than the current limit, or have children who are younger, it would not be appropriately inclusive to resume.

I do really like that contra dancing is so open. I started dancing at NEFFA when I was very little, and have brought my kids with me to all sorts of dances. They've danced at family dances and in a carrier at regular dances, and come with me when organizing local dances, playing dance weekends, and on tour. Including children in our community is very important to me.

On the other hand, if this means we can't hold dances until all ages can get vaccinated, we're going to be waiting a long time. While we are now frustratingly close to allowing vaccination for kids 5-11 (FDA approved last week, CDC is meeting today), the 2-4 cohort is not expected until 2022 at the earliest, with younger children even later. Which means for the next few months at minimum, if we are going to require vaccination (no one has been pushing for allowing unvaccinated children), the choice is between a dance for adults and older children, or no dance.

The feedback from both the spontaneous Porchfest dance and the outdoor contra was really positive: this is something a lot of people have really been missing. While I would much prefer it if all ages could safely be included, given a choice between (a) dances for ~98% of regular participants now and everyone later and (b) nothing now, everyone later, I think we should go with (a).

(Asking other parents (n=5), I haven't found anyone who thinks dances need to hold off for age fairness reasons; I've only heard this from non-parents (n=4). I then asked Lily (7y) and Anna (5y) what they thought, and they both said that until everyone could get vaccinated it wasn't fair to resume, even if that takes a very long time. I asked what they would think if they could get vaccinated but Nora (4m) still couldn't, and Anna said yes while Lily said she couldn't decide.)

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