Country musician Jason Isbell sings the right tune on vaccinations

Dallas Morning News Editorial (TNS)
Jason Isbell performs during To Nashville, With Love A Concert Benefiting Local Tornado Relief Efforts at Marathon Music Works on March 9, 2020, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images/TNS)

Four-time Grammy Award-winner Jason Isbell is requiring concertgoers to show proof of vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests to get into his shows. And if the venue doesn’t adhere to those requirements, he said he plans on canceling the engagement. True to his word, he canceled a concert in Houston this week when the venue balked.

“I’m not saying anybody has to get a vaccine or a negative test, but if you don’t, you don’t get to come to the show,’’ he said during an interview on MSNBC earlier this week. “I think that makes sense.”

Like Isbell, we wish more Americans would get vaccinated. And we cheer that Isbell is modeling behavior and communicating the importance of vaccinations for anyone who shares public spaces — a message that too many Americans haven’t taken to heart.

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Isbell also is well within his rights to determine the terms of his performances and step away if those aren’t met. And his terms aren’t unreasonable at a time when infection rates are increasing and debates rage over mask and vaccination mandates.

Isbell also has a personal interest in safe venues that entertainers and the rest of us should share. Musicians are just now getting back to work after a year on shutdown, and Isbell worries that major outbreaks will idle them again. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which was set to take place in October, has been postponed due to rising COVID-19 infections.

Isbell’s perspective is in sharp contrast to athletes like Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who contend that too little is known about the safety of the vaccines. At training camp this week, Jackson, who has contracted COVID twice in the past eight months, declined to say whether he would get vaccinated. “I just got off the COVID list,” Jackson said. “I got to talk to my team about this and see how they feel about it. Keep learning as much as I can about it. We’ll go from there.”

We wish to remind everyone who is on the fence to note that despite being developed in record time, the vaccines have been tested, millions of people have been vaccinated, side effects are extremely rare and credible medical sources can answer lingering questions a person might have about the vaccine. “I wish it was ok for people to say ‘I am afraid,’" Isbell said in a tweet. “So much easier to deal with than all the nonsense arguments they use to keep from admitting the truth.”

We also know that more than 500,000 people in the United States died before the vaccines were readily available, deaths are over 600,000 now and that the current surge of the virus is overwhelmingly among people who haven’t been vaccinated.

But we’ll let Isbell have the final words: “I’m all for freedom but I think if you’re dead, you don’t have any freedoms at all.”

— From the Dallas Morning News (TNS).