Schools must require the Covid-19 vaccine


Photo courtesy of Stg. Joshua Garcia

A nurse prepares a vaccine to administer during phase three of the vaccine trial in development with AstraZeneca.

A Covid-19 vaccine is fast approaching, but the vaccine will be useless if millions of people refuse to take it. At A-West students have different opinions on vaccines. Some students want to get the vaccine, but their parents are against it. Other students understand the importance of herd immunity and the role vaccines play in it, and some A-West students just don’t trust a vaccine that seemed rushed into production. Regardless, schools will not be safe if students aren’t vaccinated. 

The age-old debate on whether or not schools should be able to force students to get vaccinated in order to attend is a factor. While the vaccine has not been approved for those under the age of 18, when it is widely available for that age group, schools should require the vaccine. 

The 1905 Supreme Court Ruling, Jacobson v. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, voted to allow states to mandate vaccines for the protection of public health. Still, most states allow families to opt-out of vaccines due to religious or personal reasons. Although, the Covid-19 pandemic brings unprecedented challenges. 

“It is a vital vaccine that could help up transition back to normalcy. It’s needed,” says Lexi Rohke, a senior at A-West. 

By requiring all students to receive the vaccine, schools could return to full-time learning. Although others argue that because they have already had Covid-19 they have immunity and do not need a vaccine. 

“I would not receive the vaccine because I have already had Covid-19 and so I have immunity to it,” says Gunnar Chisholm. 

The New York Times argues that “natural immunity” from Covid-19 itself is not safer than a vaccine, “Vaccines for some pathogens, like pneumococcal bacteria, induce better immunity than the natural infection does. Early evidence suggests that the Covid-19 vaccines may fall into this category. Volunteers who received the Moderna shot had more antibodies — one marker of immune response — in their blood than did people who had been sick with Covid-19.” 

While your body does create antibodies after having the disease, choosing the disease over the vaccine is toying with danger. The immunity created inside someone mildly ill will wane within the months following recovery. With the vaccine, everyone gets the same dose and the same immunity. 

A community with herd immunity versus a community without herd immunity.

The idea of herd immunity is an important one when facing a pandemic. Herd immunity is when the majority of a community becomes immune to a virus. 

Johan C. Bester, the director of Bioethics and assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas explains that most vaccines that are required by schools serve a dual purpose. 

“They protect the individual child, and they also create this herd immunity effect so that the disease does not spread. Therefore, it is best for children who can be vaccinated [with these] to be vaccinated,” he says. 

Although, others argue that herd immunity can be reached without a vaccine. 

“There is not enough data on the vaccine yet. Herd immunity can be achieved without the vaccine,” Caroline Glaze, a senior at Ralston Valley says. 

However, herd immunity without a vaccine comes at a high cost. The lives that will be lost in order to reach herd immunity without a vaccine is devastating. 

Healthline calculates that 50-70% of the population would need to be exposed to the virus in order to reach herd immunity. That’s at most, 229.74 million people in America alone.

 John Hopkins estimates that less than 10% of the population has been infected with the virus as of September 2020. Scientists calculate that the virus appeared in Colorado last January, and because of this no one actually knows the numbers of people who have had the virus. The best, and safest option to expose so much of the population to the needed antibodies is a vaccine. The Covid-19 vaccine will allow control over preventable deaths. Requiring the vaccine for students will allow Americans to reach herd immunity much quicker than sacrificing more lives without utilizing a vaccine. Students will be able to return to school in a normal way. 

“If schools can require vaccines like tetanus, they can require the Covid-19 vaccine,” says Mitchell Blaylock. 

In order to keep students safe, the Covid-19 vaccine should be required before students return to school.