By Mahlon Meyer
I once had a massage therapist who refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine. I stopped going to her. Then I tried another place. I called ahead and asked, “Do all your therapists have the vaccine?”
“We can’t give out that information, it’s HIPAA protected,” said the owner angrily.
Finally, I found a place—near my house, too—where the receptionist assured me everyone had been vaccinated.
“All the therapists?”
“All the therapists,” she said.
When I got there, I took off my clothes in the usual manner, leaving on a pair of shorts, and lay down.
The massage commenced.
“You’ve been vaccinated, haven’t you?” I said.
“No, in fact I haven’t,” said the therapist.
That was the last time I got a massage during the pandemic.
For some reason, I found, those who to my mind needed the vaccine more than anyone else—massage therapists—seemed to be against it.
It was something about “not wanting to put something foreign into your body,” according to my first, original therapist.
Finally, I came to the conclusion that anyone who worked closely on bodies was somehow averse to vaccines against COVID-19.
Dental hygienists, for instance, seemed to have taken a vow not to have themselves injected with the vaccine.
Their scrupulousness about scraping plaque off teeth all day seemed to translate into a scrupulousness about not letting anything such as antibodies or T-cells accumulate in their bodies.
They had fought off plaque for so long with their bare hands, I imagined they felt they could fight off the virus in a similar way.
By staying strong.
My first massage therapist was no weakling. She used to take her kids hiking and bring a gun—to protect herself and her kids “from creeps.”
She lifted weights pretty regularly, and told me about the squats she did with a friend, while her hands smoothed oil over my back.
She wasn’t open to any persuading—not that I tried—about vaccines that she dubbed “experimental.”
She had four kids and a dog she had to take care of by herself. And she wouldn’t depend on any man—or vaccine—to help her.
She was an original.
But I found her way of thinking replicated across the city as I tried to find others who would soothe my tired swimming muscles or take the kinks out of my shoulders from rowing (which I still did back then).
And I’ve never found a better massage therapist since.