PRO/CON: Vaccine Mandates

Should schools be allowed to require student vaccinations?

November 3, 2021

PRO: Unfaltering infection rates

After nearly two years of quarantines, impromptu shutdowns and social distancing, it’s safe to say that everyone is aware of how quickly a disease can spread without proper protective measures.

And yet, according to news sources like Reuters and npr.org, a little over half the country is fully protected against COVID-19, despite the fact that it has infected almost 45 million people in the United States alone. 

It is due to these unfaltering infection rates that vaccine mandates have been passed at both the federal and state levels, as they are necessary measures to halt the spread of the virus and hasten a return to normalcy.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s vaccine mandate for educational staff and schoolchildren is especially important, as high school students have little regard for matters such as public sanitation. Masks and social distancing alone are not nearly enough to curb the spread of a virus in places as unclean and as large as public schools like DBHS, where it is not uncommon to find students spitting in the planters or leaving their trash untouched in the lunch areas

Therefore, vaccines are a necessary and effective line of defense to use, not to mention, one that has been proven time and time again to combat the negative effects of disease. In fact, schools across the country already require students to be vaccinated for diseases like polio; the COVID-19 vaccine would just be another shot to add to the list. Of course, those who are immunocompromised or otherwise incapable of being vaccinated should be exempt from such a mandate. 

However, those who can get vaccinated should, especially since studies have shown that vaccination minimizes chances of contracting the virus and lessens the severity of the symptoms should a person actually become infected. This is all the more reason that those who can, should get the vaccine, so that they can create safer environments for those who cannot protect themselves. 

Considering the virus can be incubated for up to fourteen days on average, it is difficult to tell when one is COVID-positive and thus may be at risk of unknowingly contaminating their surroundings. At schools, up to hundreds of students use the same classrooms and facilities every day, making consistent sanitation virtually impossible, and thus drastically increasing possibilities of infection from contaminated objects.

Mandated vaccinations would also help ease parents’ worries about their child’s safety, and staff members’ concerns about endangering high-risk family members. They would also eliminate practices responsible for the build-up of COVID-19 fatigue, like remote learning and working from home, in schools and workplaces, so long as everyone is vaccinated. 

After all, unless members of the community are constantly being tested for COVID-19, there is no telling whether or not there are positive cases within the vicinity, putting more people at risk.

When students are not taking enough initiative to protect their own public health and safety, it is up to the government to make decisions on behalf of their general welfare. Thus, vaccine mandates are reasonable measures of prevention and containment for the novel coronavirus.

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CON: Lack of information

On Dec. 11, the first vaccine treating COVID-19 was approved. Now, almost a year later, only 57 percent of people in the United States are vaccinated. Now, why exactly is a vaccine that was deemed critical to public health, that was rushed and begged for by citizens only being taken advantage of by a little over half of the country’s population? 

There are two answers: the first one of which relates to a lack of information. Since the vaccine was fairly new, a popular excuse for those who did not want to be vaccinated was that they weren’t sure if it was ‘safe.’ 

The other answer, however, lies with the people who cannot receive the vaccine due to religious or medical reasons. Some religious groups, including the Dutch Reformed Church and Church of Christ, cannot receive the vaccine because it goes against their religious practices by intervening with divination. Not to mention, people with certain medical conditions, such as those who are immunocompromised, cannot get vaccinated without putting their health at risk.

The main issue presented to this small group of individuals is the fact that schools and other workplaces are fining and punishing them for their failure to get vaccinated. According to Politico, students at Quinnipiac University must pay a fine of over two hundred dollars per week for being unimmunized to COVID-19. Similarly, students at Ohio State University and the University of Virginia must provide proof of vaccination to enroll for the school year. 

While these regulations may be written with good intentions, there should be better alternatives for these individuals, such as heightening preventative measures in the form of masks and sanitation which have proven to provide safety for the public throughout the pandemic. Whatsmore is everyone can benefit from the imposition of these sanitation measures.

In regards to the actions displayed by these schools, it is unfair to those who strictly abide by the scripture, or those who are severely allergic to the contents of the vaccine, to receive punishment for being unvaccinated. Rather, those who choose to be unvaccinated without legitimate reasons should be the ones receiving repercussions As they are openly choosing to risk the health of themselves and others, because of their close-minded beliefs. 

However, a major conflict arises from excusing those who are unvaccinated under religious or medical conditions as it allows those unwilling to be vaccinated to lie about their religious status or health in order to avoid the requirements

Thus, schools and workplaces should not simply punish the unvaccinated but instead, work to determine the status of the individuals in an effective and legitimate manner. Such measures to determine the motives behind unvaccinated people include looking at medical records or having them fill out a religious questionnaire, alongside any other thorough screening processes. But ultimately, all we can do at the moment is encourage people to get vaccinated and promote safety— the number one priority.

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