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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Can I Ask About My Hairstylist’s Vaccine Status?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: During the pandemic, there are a lot of services that I’ve forgone out of an abundance of caution. Now that the vaccine is rolling out, I’m looking forward to resuming a lot of these activities -- like getting my hair cut, returning to my personal trainer and visiting my therapist in person.

I’m in the last category that will be offered the vaccine, so I probably won’t be vaccinated until the summer, or even later. So my ability to safely resume these activities may depend on whether the service provider is vaccinated.

What is the etiquette around inquiring about this? Is it a question I can, or should, even ask? If so, is there a proper way to go about it? I generally feel that someone’s medical history is their own business, but the pandemic has upended so many other social norms. Has it shifted this one, as well?

GENTLE READER: Avoiding intruding into another person’s medical history has certainly become more difficult, but that is not a reason to give up.

Your concern, Miss Manners would have thought, is not actually whether the providers have been vaccinated, but the more general question of what steps they are taking to minimize the risk of infection.

This is a perfectly proper question. You will not have done anything wrong if they volunteer their vaccination status, just as you are at liberty not to return yet if their reassurances do not assuage your concerns.