With universities increasingly requiring vaccination from COVID-19 as a prerequisite for attendance at the institution, NMU will have to make a decision regarding this policy.
So far, Cornell, Rutgers, Oakland University, Brown University and others have instituted mandatory proof of vaccination for the fall semester, according to the New York Times. Yet, the issue of mandatory vaccination has become a political issue, just like the wearing of masks and the enforcement of other COVID-19 safety restrictions.
Vaccination is one of the best safety measures we have. It helps make sure our students and community are safe and shows we are being proactive in slowing the spread of the virus. Yet there are concerns about the practicality of requiring students to be vaccinated because the issue has become tangled up in partisanship.
But given our exhaustion with the state of ongoing restrictions and fear of outbreaks, if we want things to go back to normal as soon as possible, mandatory vaccination for students is a good way to start.
It must be noted that measles immunization is already required by the university for incoming students, with an exemption form in place for special circumstances. It would not be much of a step to also require vaccination for the current worldwide health crisis.
Perhaps there can be options for those who, for religious or health-related reasons of their own, wish to be excluded from the mandatory vaccination requirements. The goal isn’t to make anyone uncomfortable, and the word “mandatory” certainly has a harsh ring to it. For anti-vaxxers, mandatory vaccination at NMU would bring concern. However, perhaps for students who obtain vaccine exemptions, there could be a Zoom-only requirement to encourage participation.
About 20% of those hesitant about receiving the vaccines are concerned about possible side effects, according to MLive. With the shortened trial periods of the vaccines, some worry that corners were cut in the production of safe immunizations. There is a great deal of negative press regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, encouraging fear and hesitancy. With the pulling of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines due to blood clots in a few cases, concern over undiscovered side effects in other COVID-19 vaccines was bolstered.
Some universities are offering to incentivize vaccination by allowing vaccinated students to go without wearing masks. But because of the difficulty in enforcing such a rule, and the fact that those who have been vaccinated still have a small chance of passing the virus, this probably isn’t the best idea.
Our COVID-19 strategy has changed a lot in the last year. We’ve gone from our best option being isolation, to herd immunity and that means getting the majority of people vaccinated. This requires incentives and ease of getting vaccinated in the first place. We urge NMU to set up a new vaccination clinic, not under the purview of the swamped Marquette County Health Department so that students can easily get the vaccines without cost.
The world we want to live in soon is one in which we can see our friends and attend in-person events, where we can go out and socialize without fear of contracting or spreading a deadly virus. When will these things be realistic again? Only large-scale vaccine requirements have the potential for making these things possible.
Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This is an editorial, written by the North Wind Editorial Board in its entirety. It reflects the majority views of the individuals who make up the editorial staff of the North Wind. It is the policy of the Editorial Board not to endorse candidates for any political office, in order to avoid aligning this public forum with particular political organizations.