Last Updated: January 29, 2021, 10:28 am

OPINION | COVID-19 vaccine should be required for school


COVID-19 vaccines started being distributed in early December. “Higher education should take some cues from K-12 regarding its vaccine regulations...” Rachel Lords says. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

We’re nearing one year of quarantine and COVID-19 vaccines have started being distributed. The time we’ve all been waiting for is coming, which is normalcy. Before everything can feel normal again, there are a few things we need to figure out, and one of the most pressing is if schools should require proof of being vaccinated for COVID-19 to participate in the coming school year.

As someone whose parent is a teacher in the Washington County School District, I see how K-12 schools handle their vaccine policies. Higher education should take some cues from K-12 regarding its vaccine regulations and require that students can prove they are being safe and receiving their vaccines.

Having a COVID-19 vaccine required for all schools makes complete sense to protect their students. Not only is it the best way to avoid causing schools to shut down due to a sudden outbreak of the virus, but it’s just the nicest thing to do for everyone around you.

Schools already require that students have certain vaccines or immunizations to enroll, which is why it should be obvious that the COVID-19 vaccine is included in that list, whether it be the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or Moderna’s vaccine.

Regardless of if the school is K-12 or higher education, if the school is public or considered a state school, it should require the vaccine. These schools provide education to the majority of the public, which means there are so many more chances that a student can get sick and get those around them sick.

In the Washington County School District, a student may not even enter the school for classes without a certificate that they’ve received their traditional childhood vaccinations. The only exceptions are if they have proof that they will be getting the vaccine soon, or other special circumstances. Those special circumstances could be either health issues preventing the vaccine or a religious reason as to why the student can’t receive it.

Why is the school district so determined to ensure that every student has been vaccinated? It’s because the district wants to make sure every student will be in a place that protects them from dangerous things, and an illness that can be prevented by a vaccine is dangerous and can be avoided.

It’s the same as requiring students to get a vaccine for measles. It’s an extremely contagious and deadly virus, and because of that, schools require students to have a vaccine for it before participating. It’s the same as any deadly virus that requires a vaccine; the difference is that it doesn’t have political viewpoints tied to it.

Some people are against requiring a vaccine for school on the grounds that it goes against their right to autonomy. While yes, no one has the authority to force you to get the vaccine, at the same time, no one is forcing you to go to a school that may require it.

When a higher education school is a public state school, it receives funding from the state and federal government; because of this, those schools should follow rules to ensure students’ safety regarding vaccines the same way K-12 schools have been. If a school is private, then by all means it can choose its own regulations as it sees fit, but if a school receives funding from the government, it’s the school’s duty to ensure students are safe just like K-12 schools have to.

The vaccines already being used for deadly viruses are widely accepted as necessary to the health and wellbeing of the world, while a COVID-19 vaccine has hundreds of lies connected to it largely due to disagreements in the United States’ political parties. If we took away the name COVID-19 and asked if schools should require a vaccine for a deadly virus that has shut down entire cities for months, most people would jump on board.

When people go to school, they expect to feel safe in that environment. Part of feeling safe is feeling like you aren’t going to be exposed to something that can potentially kill you or someone around you. Vaccines are here to protect us, and requiring that for enrollment is part of the school’s duty to keep its students safe.