Opinion: COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory in schools


Torstensimon, Pixabay

Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available at no cost for children five years and older, it’s time for schools to mandate the vaccine for all students. According to a White House statement, “Fully vaccinated individuals are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and have a high degree of protection, including against the Delta variant. The consequences of a pediatric COVID-19 case can be serious and potentially last months.”

Hannah Birnbaum, Staff Writer

With COVID-19 cases not getting much better, having the vaccine being mandatory in schools would decrease cases and help with everyone’s overall health and safety.

Action for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in schools has already been taken in California. Governor Gavin Newsom told EdSource.org, “We want our kids back in school without episodic closures. California has outperformed the nation in keeping our kids safely back for in-person instruction because of the social-emotional benefit.”

Senior Ethan Fong, who is very passionate about stopping the spread of COVID-19, thinks that having a vaccine mandate is essential for the health and safety of students and teachers. He said, “Dealing with COVID-19 is not a personal choice as everyone makes it out to be, because if you get it, you have the very real possibility of spreading it to others who didn’t bring it upon themselves. Getting a vaccine is a proven and researched method that has existed for over a hundred years to prevent disease, and it is a measure that should be taken if possible.”

Senior Maya Webb, who has done extensive research on the topic of a vaccine mandate, is grateful for the vaccine and how it allowed her to get back to her normal activities, just like before the pandemic began. “The vaccine has impacted me in a positive way. Since getting it, I feel much more protected against COVID-19, and as a student, the mandate seems like a good idea,” she said.

In California, the government is taking action to make sure all students have the vaccine as soon as possible, even kids as young as five years old. Education journalist Diana Lambert wrote, “Once the vaccines are fully approved, students have until the next term to complete their vaccinations before they can attend school in person. California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly said Wednesday that he anticipates that 1.2 million doses of the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 will be available in the state once emergency use is approved.”

Although California is instituting a mandate, since it is a regulation instead of legislation, there must be a personal belief exemption. “Students with these exemptions can attend school in-person. Students who choose independent study, which allows them to study from home, won’t have to file an exemption or get vaccinated,” Lambert wrote.

Fong has become frustrated with the general public’s lack of common sense, and how they have almost stopped believing in science. He said, “People think that their personal freedoms are being infringed on when it is simply a necessity that we have to take to protect ourselves, one of many examples when we have to sacrifice personal liberties to exist in society. Many think that it is a government hoax, or that it is overly dangerous, or that it is not that serious, and it is none of these things.”

Even though Webb knows that the mandate would be helpful, she knows people are still hesitant, even for reasons that are not true. “There was a lot of controversy around COVID-19 vaccines because of how quickly they were made and distributed compared to other vaccines like the flu shot or meningitis and there was a lot of stigma around what the vaccine could cause, like rumors how it could stop women from becoming pregnant,” she said. 

In the end, Fong knows that a mandate would help the public, even if people gave it a hard time. He said, “It might make them uncomfortable, and that sucks. But it’s for the good of everyone. I can guarantee that none of my peers at school have even 1% of the expertise of the virologists, immunologists, or scientists that are responsible for a vaccine mandate that might be imposed. I would implore these students to really think about how much they know and how much faith they really should be putting into these people.”