Op-ed Winners

Vaccination: Choice or Requirement

The COVID-19 Pandemic has hampered learning at Belmont Hill by distancing students from teachers; however, an end is in sight with the development of a functional vaccine for the virus potentially being able to reduce the risk of infection. Depending on the source of information, the vaccine is set to roll out anytime from December of this year to 2022. Operation Warp Speed is an initiative by several government agencies that has the sole goal of providing 300 million doses of a vaccine as soon as possible. More than $10 billion of funding has been provided by Congress, and the operation already is running vaccines through test trials while planning distribution of the doses to Americans. Once a vaccine that can provide immunity to the virus is released, though, should schools require students to get vaccinated in order to attend school in-person? Yes, this is a common sense measure school boards should pass.

In the past years, social media has permitted the spread of disinformation in groups that are against vaccinations which has made the scientific consensus on the usefulness of vaccines overridden for some by badly researched conspiracy posts and political opinions. Luckily, these so-called “anti-vaxxers” are a relatively small portion of the population meaning that herd immunity is still in effect; however, if enough students fail to get vaccinated before in-person school starts, Belmont Hill could still suffer an outbreak within its campus.

On the other hand, families would have good reason to refuse to send their children into an unrestricted school to get infected with the virus if there is no vaccination requirement. Although the students are at relatively low risk of life-threatening symptoms of Covid-19, they could easily infect high-risk family members.

Congress and the President are unwilling to mandate vaccination because it would alienate a portion of voters for the next election; however, it is likely that once a vaccine is released, the federal government will undertake a major vaccination campaign that would quickly achieve herd immunity. If any government attempts to make vaccination a law, then there will likely be much protest against a perceived infringement of a right to make medical decisions, so the burden is on schools, companies, and independent institutions to mandate vaccination for its members.

Studies have shown that even simple measures like social distancing and mask wearing can limit the spread of the virus; however, these are not the airtight solutions that parents are looking for to send their children into potential danger. Students should absolutely be required to get vaccinated for the virus if able before returning to in-person school. Schools have the duty to protect the health of their student population by enforcing vaccination to prevent outbreaks.

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