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OPINION: Should colleges continue to require COVID vaccines?

By Nicholas Klann

The debate about mandatory vaccinations rages on as people from around the country still refuse to get the shot. However, colleges are beginning to require the COVID-19 vaccinations for students to be allowed on the campus.

It is important that colleges continue to enforce vaccine mandates for their students and staff.

Vaccinations have proven to dramatically lower COVID cases not only in schools but all around the country, as well. In Indiana’s Valparaiso University, booster shots are required for students to receive before Feb. 28, 2022. The university has a COVID-19 dashboard on which it lists that the current positivity rate for all students, on and off-campus, is only 0.36 percent, a total of 10 current cases.

Meanwhile, the University of Virginia reports tell a different story. The University of Virginia does not require any COVID vaccinations to attend in-person learning. The total number of active cases for students at this school is 275. This brings the positivity rate up to 11.59 percent. This number is disproportionate to Valparaiso’s cases. Vaccines clearly have an impact on the number of infections. Not getting immunized against a virus puts yourself and others at risk.

Many would argue that vaccine mandates go against some people’s religious ideals. Some even have medical reasons not to get vaccinated. It’s important for everyone to know that colleges aren’t turning them away. In an article from AP News about rising mandates in schools, John Seewer mentions that “Just about every university with a vaccine requirement allows students and employees to ask for a medical or religious exemption.” He goes on to say that “At Virginia Tech University, where 95 percent of students are now vaccinated, the school granted all of the 1,600 exemption requests.”

People who have these exemptions, though, don’t have as much protection as others do, but if everyone around them is vaccinated, they would have a lower risk of catching COVID or any other illness. This concept is called herd immunity, and this is not the first time it has been relied on in the U.S. Vaccinations against old diseases and infections like measles and polio have more or less completely eradicated the illnesses. People who had medical exemptions were saved by the external protection of others. This is part of the reason vaccine mandates in schools are important.

When the evidence is weighed, it becomes clear that vaccine mandates help slow the spread of the virus just how it was designed to do. A school is a place that should feel safe to students and staff, and the vaccine is helping to accomplish that. People with exemptions are not harmed by these mandates. In reality, they are helped. Vaccine mandates need to be put in place to set the world free from this pandemic.

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