Note: this post was made on October 27, 2021. Given the nature of this novel coronavirus, data is constantly changing, news studies are being published, and our understanding of this virus and the effectiveness of the vaccination is evolving. The author of this post is not a medical professional in any way, shape or form outside of playing Dr. Mario obsessively as a child. The author encourages you to read the cited studies on your own and come to your own conclusions.
Edit: Since publication, the national Epee coordinator has resigned due to the vaccination mandate.
On October 16, 2021, the USA Fencing Board of Directors unanimously approved a measure requiring vaccination to attend national events from January 2022 onward.
It was time.
At the time of writing this, 760,000 Americans have died of Covid-19. 46.5 million people have been infected. And the Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval.
Despite popularity among members of the organization, the mandate has not been without fallout.
Shortly following the meeting, a National Epee Coach resigned from his position, citing the “decisions taken by the Board of Directors at their latest meeting” as the driving reason behind his resignation (another coach threatened to resign if the mandate passed, but has not officially quit at the time of this publication).
This coach has been instrumental in the ongoing success of both Men’s and Women’s Epee and deserves the gratitude of the organization and membership for his contributions to American Fencing, both domestically and internationally. He is both a gentleman and a wonderful person, and always a pleasure to referee and communicate with.
So I write this post not as a bitter farewell, but a “hail mary” to perhaps get him (and others who have been jaded by USA Fencing’s mandate) to reconsider their positions on the matter.
Because here are the facts about vaccination: It’s safe for adults. It’s safe for children. It reduces the odds of transmission. It reduces chances of hospitalization and death. It’s supported by most major religions. And here’s some studies/data to prove that.
- While vaccination carries a risk of myocarditis, the odds are significantly higher if unvaccinated. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, myocarditis (or inflammation of the heart) occurred in 2.7 excess cases per 100,000 vaccinated persons. In fact, you are more than four times more likely to develop myocarditis if infected as an unvaccinated person. For children under the age of 16, the risk of myocarditis is 37 times higher for children infected with Covid-19 compared to those who have not, and among vaccinated males aged 12-29, the risk of myocarditis from vaccination is between .004%-.005%.
- The vaccine reduces odds of transmission. A recent study from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands found that vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant were 63% less likely to transmit to non-vaccinated people. A separate study found that vaccine effectiveness against transmission was as high as 89%.
- While children are at a lower risk of complications due to Covid-19, they carry a significantly higher viral load. Children age 0-17 have accounted for .07% of deaths during the pandemic, and .1%-2.0% of states reported that child Covid cases required hospitalization. Though the risks of Covid are lower in children, according to a study from Massachusetts General Hospital, they carry a higher viral load and are more contagious than their adult counterparts.
- It protects from severe infections and hospitalization. A study published by the CDC in September found that Moderna was 93% effective in preventing hospitalization, with 88% effectiveness in the Pfizer vaccine. But here’s the real kicker—98%-99% of those dying have been unvaccinated.
- Vaccination is supported by most major religions. The Catholic Church, the Islamic Society of North America, and Chabad (an Orthodox Jewish organization) all have supported vaccination.
NAC’s remain dangerous affairs. They require thousands of athletes, coaches, parents, referees, and volunteers to fly in for each event. As an exclusively indoor sport that often results in close quarter combat and infighting, USA Fencing has a public health obligation to ensure those attending these events do not return to their communities and continue the spread of this devastating virus.
The vaccine provides us the best path to ensuring safe competition in the present and the future.
Earlier this week, when New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked if the country had turned into a two-tier society between those who had been vaccinated and those who had not, she replied: “That is what it is” without missing a beat.
This pandemic doesn’t have an end in sight as more and more unvaccinated people continue to die. Fencing itself must continue on as a two-tier sport in order to make our own contribution in ending the pandemic.