Vaccination is Important for Singing

Indoor shape-note singing at full voice for an extended period of time in a relatively small space is among the riskiest environments for transmitting an airborne illness like COVID-19. When we invite someone to attend singing, we are involving them in a very risky activity. There were numerous examples in 2022 of COVID outbreaks at Sacred Harp singings in the US and Europe.

Though we understand that vaccination doesn’t prevent transmission of COVID, it does protect individuals against severe illness, hospitalization, death, and post-COVID complications. Not only have vaccines saved millions of lives and prevented many millions of hospitalizations in the past three years, they continue to do so, particularly when supplemented with a timely booster dose. Bivalent booster doses provide significant additional protection against symptomatic COVID infection, as well as reduced emergency-department / urgent-care encounters, and hospitalizations. (Link-Gelles, 2022; Tenford, 2022)

The updated “bivalent” vaccine effective against omicron variants is now available in the US for everyone five years and older. Singers should get this booster as soon as it is available to them, and at least 14 days before attending a singing event.

When we organize a singing these days, we are implicitly relying on vaccine to keep from causing serious harm to singers, particularly the elderly or chronically ill. Almost none of us would be participating in singing today if it weren’t for COVID vaccination.

Given what we know about COVID, and what we have readily available, it is not reasonable to engage in a risky group activity like indoor singing without vaccination. For this reason, singing organizers should require proof of COVID vaccination and booster in order to attend. 1 Organizers have a responsibility to care for the needs of the entire class, including the most vulnerable among us. This is in keeping with the spirit of our singings.

We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

330b Fellowship

No serious difficulty is anticipated by the health authorities if every person uses every precaution possible to keep the disease from spreading.The disease is highly contagious and congregating with others who may spread the germs is dangerous.

“Sacred Harp Singing Called Off.” The Cullman (Alabama) Tribune, 9 July 1936, Thursday, page 1; citing the Cullman County Board of Health on the danger of spreading infantile paralysis (polio).


1. Depending on local conditions and personal risks, additional measures might also be necessary, such as:

Centers for Disease Control (US). “Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine.” (Aug, 2022)

Centers for Disease Control (US). “CDC Expands Updated COVID-19 Vaccines to Include Children Ages 5 Through 11.” (12 Oct 2022)

Centers for Disease Control (US). “Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines Including Boosters.” (1 Nov 2022)

Centers for Disease Control (US). “Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines.” (14 Nov 2022)

Link-Gelles, et al. Effectiveness of Bivalent mRNA Vaccines in Preventing Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection. MMWR,, 2 Dec 2022.

National Health Service (UK). “Why vaccination is safe and important.” (July, 2019)

Golden, SH. “COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: 12 Things You Need to Know.” Johns Hopkins University (Nov, 2021)

Tenford, et al. Early Estimates of Bivalent mRNA Vaccine Effectiveness in Preventing COVID-19–Associated Emergency Department or Urgent Care Encounters and Hospitalizations Among Immunocompetent Adults. MMWR,, 16 Dec 2022

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Version: 8 Jan 2023