Opinion: The vaccine mandate is a necessity


Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user danielfoster473

WSPN’s Ari Zukerman discusses the lack of requirement for COVID-19 vaccination in the Wayland Public Schools.

Ari Zukerman

COVID-19 ravaged the world and continues to devastate normal life. Causing over 4.6 million deaths and over 220 million cases, the coronavirus is something to be taken seriously. In recent times, the numbers climbed yet again as the new Delta variant of the virus struck the world. Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for children ages 12-15. This was a huge step forward as it significantly lowered transmission in schools, which decreased the risk of adults and seniors who are more susceptible to serious cases of the virus.

The need for vaccine mandates in schooling is quite clear. Children in states with high vaccination rates are four times less likely to get hospitalized due to COVID-19 as opposed to students in low vaccination rate states. From Thursday, Aug. 26 to Thursday, Sept. 2, the period when schools reopened, 251,781 children in the United States tested positive for COVID-19, making up 26.8% of COVID-19 cases from the timespan given.

A mandate for staff would be as important as for students, if not more. During outbreaks at schools in Cobb County, Georgia, the CDC mentioned that “educators might play a central role in in-school transmission networks.” Teachers see more students over the course of a day than students would, and this could cause them to transmit it to more students than a single student would do in a day.

Also, 39.8% of teachers have a risk factor for a severe case of the virus. Vaccination for those with risk factors, and the people who spend time around those with risk factors, are extremely important and can even be a life-or-death matter. Older adults have a high chance to get symptoms such as fevers, difficulty breathing, and even more.

And finally, if vaccination is mandated, the mask mandate inside the building could be lifted. The Massachusetts Department of Education says that if a school can demonstrate a vaccination rate of over 80%, masks are allowed to be removed inside of buildings. This would allow for activities such as playing instruments and singing indoors without masks.

Mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all who are eligible in the Wayland Public Schools could seriously lower the risk of the coronavirus for students and their families. So, what’s the opposition? Well to start, there are the completely baseless rumors, such as that the vaccines are implanting 5G/tracking chips into the arms of those who get vaccinated or that the vaccine is useless and COVID-19 can just be cured by using a special cream. While rumors like these may be baseless and completely false, they can still cause lots of harm as the virus is more likely to transmit through the unvaccinated.

Another key opposition point is that of mandates being a form of “authoritarianism,” and even congressman Jim Jordan referred to [the vaccine] as “un-American” when this is simply untrue. There are many other vaccine mandates across American history, dating all the way back to the mid 1800s, with smallpox and childhood vaccination mandates.

The final real opposition to the vaccine is purely political. In recent times, matters as important as public health have been extremely politicized, making something as simple as improving personal/public health have unrelated external pressures on one’s decision. The modern Republican Party made up the anti-vaccination population base and has created policies against requiring vaccine mandates, with 12 states already restricting vaccine mandates.

Many other diseases have vaccine mandates in order to attend school, so why isn’t the COVID-19 vaccine mandated as well?