It’s Time to Add COVID to the List of School-Mandated Vaccines

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The fight against COVID-19 is dependent upon everyone getting vaccinated

Opinion Of: MIKAYLA STAHL

In January of this year, the Omicron variant resulted in the largest spike in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. Student and teacher absences skyrocketed across the district, seriously jeopardizing the progress we had made in an attempted return to normalcy.

With holiday gatherings behind us and vaccines now widely available for all school-aged children, we have made it through this spike, and we have reason to feel optimistic. However, schools need to continue to make smart, science-based decisions going forward. The most effective measure is vaccination. In fact, the CDC reported that unvaccinated adults were 41 times more at risk of dying from COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated and boosted.

The education system is no stranger to mandating vaccines. In fact, in order to attend high school in CT, students must have their measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), tetanus, polio, Hep B, Varicella, and other vaccinations. These requirements are for the safety of students and staff, and are essential to preventing an outbreak in the general public. COVID-19 is an active pandemic, so why are public officials not pushing for this necessary addition to school-mandated vaccines?

Vaccines have been the subject of misinformation. From concerns over rushed technology, to conspiracies of tracking chips to fear of its long-term effects, misinformation has led to anti-vaccination sentiments and a prolonged pandemic. The truth is, the technology used in the COVID-19 vaccine has existed for decades. Clinical trials, world-wide peer reviews, and extensive research have proven it to be safe and effective.

Graph shows the rates of COVID-19 by vaccination status according to the CDC from April. 4, 2021 to Jan. 22, 2022.

Students are required by law to attend school, and therefore have no other option but to expose themselves every day to the possibility of getting COVID-19. Outside of school, we can choose who we hang out with and who we are willing to expose ourselves to. In school, we do not know who is or is not vaccinated, and we have no say in who we sit near or interact with in the classroom. If the COVID-19 vaccine were to be mandated, students and teachers would be safer.

Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is a choice for students. Choice is important, but it would be disingenuous to pretend that the choices we make regarding the vaccine don’t have life or death consequences.

A decision not to get vaccinated puts other students, teachers, staff, and their families at risk. That decision is also a main contributor to the pandemic continuing, as the virus is able to mutate in unvaccinated people. The vaccine is critical in beating COVID-19 by reducing the likelihood of further mutations, in addition to limiting illness and death of those infected, which gets us all closer to life pre-COVID, a goal we all share.

Visit cdc.gov for more vaccine information