Should Colleges Require the COVID-19 Vaccine?



Sophie Picone, Editor

For the past year and a half, the world has been almost completely shut down due to COVID-19. Now that we finally have a vaccine, full vaccination seems like the obvious choice to make. 

The FDA has already approved the Pfizer vaccine, (as well as three others.) According to the CDC, over 56% of Americans are already fully vaccinated. Many businesses and companies are beginning to require those who enter their building to be vaccinated. Why shouldn’t colleges and universities do the same? 

Colleges already require vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella, and the majority of students get vaccinated without complaint.

Conspiracy theories aside, the main worry about the COVID vaccine is that it isn’t effective. While there have been cases of COVID in vaccinated people, they have been much less severe, and the vaccine is 95% effective at initially preventing infection in people above 16 years old, as reported by the CDC.

 As reported in the article, “’Hybrid immunity’: Why people who had COVID should still get vaccinated” by Akshay Syal from NBC news, Shane Crotty, a professor of immunology at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in California, said the benefit of the COVID vaccine, “Against some of the most concerning variants, [is] literally 100 times better levels of antibodies after vaccination compared to before for somebody with natural immunity.”

The CDC also recently found that if someone has COVID antibodies, but no vaccine, they are “twice as likely to get infected again,” than they are if they are vaccinated. This implies that vaccinations are a much safer and less fatal way of achieving “herd immunity” than the methods that were suggested at the beginning of the pandemic.

A vaccine mandate doesn’t mean that colleges will be denying education to those who are unwilling or unable to be vaccinated, as they can continue to offer remote learning to students who choose to stay unvaccinated. 

Some may argue that it is more efficient to just get rapid result COVID tests weekly. However, instant COVID tests can be very expensive, retailing at $20 to $40 per testing kit. College students don’t typically have money to spare,  and there is no way of telling whether or not students have contracted the virus in the time between the tests.  It is much more practical for students to simply get vaccinated, even if it isn’t mandated.

Finally, it is important to mention the flaws of not getting vaccinated and just wearing face masks. While masks do greatly reduce the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19, they don’t completely prevent it. A study in Bangladesh found that masks were only 5-11% effective in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID. While this is still a very important precaution to take, it simply isn’t enough to end the pandemic on its own. 

Americans still have the freedom to choose whether or not to get vaccinated. Considering the risks of not being vaccinated, it is perfectly reasonable that colleges be allowed to choose whether or not to let unvaccinated students attend their schools.