Now that there’s a fully approved vaccine and viewpoints on said vaccine have flown like food in a chaotic school lunchroom, how should the University proceed with such information? Easy — Northwest needs to mandate that students receive the vaccine to continue in-person enrollment.
On Aug. 23, the Food and Drug Administration fully approved the first coronavirus vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will continuously be administered to individuals age 16 and older.
“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. said in a press release. “While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated.”
Let’s view this from an objective standpoint and remove ourselves from the spotlight of our own opinions. First, the University has removed all opportunities of virtually attending classes, as no professors are offering Zoom links if students are quarantined or contract the virus. Under normal circumstances, this should be expected, but we’re in a pandemic. A little leeway should be granted.
So, what if someone without the vaccine comes to school and gets another student sick? That initial student would be responsible for the second student missing class, homework and potentially falling behind. If enough students are affected by the highly contagious delta variant, school could likely revert to the less-than-desirable hybrid environment. Once again, the punishment will fall on those who have done all they can to end the pandemic.
How does the University expect students to succeed if they can’t go to class when it’s not their fault for getting sick? If Northwest is going to make it easier for students to miss class, it should at least make it harder for students to get sick.
Although popular vaccines like Moderna and Johnson and Johnson aren’t fully approved yet, there’s at least one vaccine now that’s fully approved, and Northwest offers it. Most places in Maryville allow people to choose which vaccine they wish to receive, so students wouldn’t be forced to get a vaccine they’re uncomfortable with. Now that a governing body has deemed it safe, those disputing vaccines on the grounds still have no leg to stand on.
At this point in time, Northwest wouldn’t be alone in vaccination mandates. 40 states have at least one higher educational institution that requires students to provide evidence of vaccination. Institutions in Missouri that require proof of vaccination include Culver-Stockton College, Rockhurst University, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis, Webster University and William Jewell College.
If so many colleges and universities across the nation are phasing in vaccination efforts, Northwest can feasibly do its part.
From a public relations standpoint, Northwest shouldn’t be worried because it’s impossible to please everyone. Every year, the University requires students to get the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and Meningococcal vaccine before stepping on campus in their first year. So, students opposed to receiving vaccines are simply exposing their hypocrisy when refusing the newly approved vaccine. There’s no difference in requiring students to get those vaccines and getting the COVID-19 vaccine. They have undergone the same approval.
As mentioned earlier, the discussion of receiving or refusing the vaccine is tedious. However, if the safety of others is in question, safety should be more concerning than being told what to do. Now that the FDA has fully approved a safe vaccine, Northwest should adhere and do what’s safe and fair for all of its students. Make the vaccination a requirement.