RICHMOND — When a friend’s son and his bride-to-be sent out their wedding invitations earlier this year, something new was added: vaccinated only.

When a vaccine holdout had a chance to go to a Yankees game, she decided it would be safer to be vaccinated. She got the shots.

At colleges and universities across the nation, vaccination has been mandated for students and faculty so the traditional roles of teacher and pupil can be revived, instead of kids holing up in their parents’ house or a dorm room to stare at a screen all day.

On the other side of the coin, no vaccinations, proof of tests or masks were required by two different funeral homes where large numbers of people, some with children, arrived to pay their respects. Most people came without masks, plenty of people hugged, and no one knows how many were unvaccinated.

At the Pittsfield post office, where some employees have face-to-face encounters with the public — selling stamps and weighing packages — the people in charge have ignored the local Board of Health’s request for statistics on COVID-19 cases.

It’s inconvenient to shun one federal office for its recalcitrance, but Berkshire County has lots of post offices. At our small one in Richmond, patrons and the very-efficient employees wear masks.

In various hot spots around the country, parents are deriding (and sometimes threatening) school administrations if their kids are forced to wear masks. But at Richmond Consolidated School, regular classes were in session from September 2020 to June.

Social distancing was a hardship for kids and teachers, but they did it. And some said, “Well, it’s a small school.” The successful year was probably more to the credit of willingness to make it work — on the part of parents, teachers, kids and the school lunch director.

So, it’s a hodgepodge, this business of how we deal with a vaccine. And it shouldn’t be. When it’s a matter of public health, people have to make community choice, not personal choice.

It’s not as if this is some alarming new thought, the idea of getting a shot to prevent a disease: Anyone traveling to certain countries has to get a cholera shot, or he/she/they can’t go. It’s the same for starting school, which requires proof of a smallpox vaccination, and because of that rule, the once-dreaded smallpox has been virtually eliminated.

We eagerly endorsed our kids getting the polio vaccine, an event that brought back memories of a high school classmate, a beautiful and vibrant cheerleader, nearly dying from polio and then physically challenged for the rest of her life. And we rarely know, anymore, anyone who has just been diagnosed with polio.

The stats on vaccinations are geographically fascinating. In Alabama, only 44 percent are fully vaccinated. States like Mississippi and Missouri are also under 50 percent. Florida, where many Berkshirites go to escape winter, posts 59 percent (pack your masks), Texas only 53, Ohio 51.

New England stars at this, with 69 to 71 percent fully vaccinated in Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with New Hampshire (live free or die) lagging at 62. But the Berkshires are lagging, too, with fully vaccinated reported recently at 66 percent. That means too many — some of whom have health reasons — are not doing it.

Knowing about breakthrough infections, the vaccinated must proceed with care, masking at the store, avoiding crowded restaurants, being a little aggressive about saying, “Are you vaccinated?” to the repairman, friend or relative on the doorstep.

We all have rights to make decisions on what the experts call bodily autonomy, the right to make decisions about self. But my high school civics teacher drilled into our heads that individual rights stop where the next person’s rights begin.

The unvaccinated need to realize that the vaccinated are the reason they can move about more freely than a year ago. And the unvaccinated are also the reason I can move less than I’d like.

To rephrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, inconsistency is also the hobgoblin of logical thinking — many who advocate for freedom of choice about their bodies don’t grant women that choice on the abortion or sexual harassment issues, or the right to same-sex marriage.

Kay Ivey, governor of Alabama, fights federal mandates for vaccinations, for instance, but also said in an interview, “It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

Appropriate to the season, the hobgoblin of consistency haunts the antivaxxers.

Ruth Bass is an award-winning journalist. Her web site is