Massage industry seeing increase in clientele with vaccinations rising, but some worry about vaccine hesitancy

One profession booking more appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic is the massage industry as vaccine rates continue to increase in Washington state.

But massage therapists say they still fear communities won’t reach herd immunity soon enough due to vaccine hesitancy.

In the beginning of the pandemic, Marybeth Berney was very stressed about getting COVID and even more worried about her clients.

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For Berney, that stress lessened a bit after getting the vaccine. She says vaccine status is now a question that organically comes up from clients.

"I’ve been hearing that and I’ve also heard massage therapists asking their clients if they are vaccinated and some of them may be making decisions to not work on people who aren’t vaccinated, interestingly enough," Berney said.

Berney is the president of the Washington Massage Therapist Association and said herd immunity is important for high-risk jobs like hers.

"People who are vaccine-hesitant, their minds can be changed versus the anti-vaxxers," Berney said.

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She is urging other massage therapists to be knowledgeable about the vaccine in order to answer questions.

"We spend a lot of time with our clients so you need to make sure you have good information," Berney said.

She is doing a lot of research trying to understand the psychology of vaccine-hesitant people.

"You need to listen to why it is they are hesitant and is there an opening there to provide some education," Berney said.

Berney will play her part at her Olympia business to accelerate vaccine rates and she hopes others will too.

"Do you want to go around in kind of a normal life or not, you know, to me that’s the question," Berney said.

She said the trusted people around the vaccine-hesitant people could make the biggest difference in keeping people informed.

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