Do You Want to Sit in the Vaccinated or Non-Vaccinated Section?

Laurie Levy
3 min readMay 24, 2021

It wasn’t that long ago that I would be asked “Smoking or non-smoking” when I went to a restaurant. And I remember when airplanes attempted to separate smokers from non-smokers in their seating assignments. In fact, it wasn’t until 2000 that smoking was banned on airplanes. In 2002, Delaware was the first state to adopt a smoke-free law that made private workplaces, restaurants, and bars smoke-free. In Illinois, this happened in 2008, which is not really that long ago.

We knew smoking was a health hazard since 1964 when the Surgeon General concluded smoking caused lung cancer and bronchitis. Cigarette companies knew this as early as 20 years before that, but the industry continued to deny the science for all of those years. By 1986, the surgeon general warned that secondhand smoke was a major health risk to nonsmokers. Perhaps it took until the early 2000s for the science to sink in and for states to begin to adopt smoke-free laws.

We are at the stage with the COVID vaccines at which the honor system is not enough. I’m vaccinated but, despite the latest CDC advice, I still wear my mask in public places. I suspect that many of those who are vaccine hesitant are also anti-maskers. So, how do I interpret an unmasked person? Safe or not safe? While science tells me it is important to be vaccinated and for our country to reach herd immunity (which I doubt will ever happen), much like with smoking, there is still plenty of resistance to what science says.

There is also resistance in our country to having vaccine passports to enable people to attend public events, shop in stores, and eat in restaurants and feel safe that everyone is vaccinated. I guess some folks feel this would be an infringement on their personal freedom or a matter of equity, as not everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated (although we are getting closer). This approach is working in other countries, but America is more polarized politically and economically.

While this is being hashed out and we are on the honor system about our vaccine status, how about taking a lesson from smoking? We need non-vaccinated/vaccinated sections in public places. I would pay a bit more to sit in a vaccinated section of a restaurant, theater, airplane, or other public accommodation. As…

Laurie Levy

Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.