Over the past two years, we, both as a country and as a community at BGSU, have experienced unprecedented hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For most of us, the release and then approval of the Pfizer vaccine felt as if we could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
When President Rogers decided to implement a vaccine mandate requiring all students to have completed both doses of the vaccine, some students saw this action as a step toward normalcy. This kind of thinking is hopeful, but it fails to acknowledge the more severe implications of a vaccine mandate. Namely, that it infringes on the students’ ability to make their own choices regarding their personal health and wellness.
The intent of this piece is not to argue that the vaccine is a bad thing. In fact, the vaccine has been proven to effectively reduce the severeness of the COVID-19 virus and has been the main factor in the pandemic’s demise.
According to the CDC, 75.7% of American adults have already received at least one dose of the vaccine. For those who have been anxious about the virus, the vaccine should be the end of their worries as the number of hospitalizations in fully vaccinated adults has been small. Despite this, the vaccine does not stop a person from being able to transmit COVID-19. The people who are worried about COVID-19 should have already received or made plans to get the vaccine by this point in time. There are no inhibitors: the shot is free, available and effective at personal protection from the virus.
Despite the safety from the coronavirus that the vaccine provides, the decision to take it is not necessarily clear-cut. Students need to be able to make their own health risk analyses regarding their well-being. For example, a young-adult student may see that myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), which according to the CDC, may have long term side effects, is becoming increasingly common in young adults who have received the vaccine.
They may also notice that the effects of COVID-19 are mild among healthy people in their age group. With this information in mind, one reasonable conclusion would be to abstain from getting the vaccine in order to avoid potential long-term health issues. However, the mandate would never allow for such a decision to be made.
Apart from the aforementioned example, there are many reasons why a student without prior health conditions might choose to refrain from getting the vaccine: the inconsistent information being spread from leaders in health and politics, the over-politicization of coronavirus vaccines, the result of a personal health analysis, etc.
Regardless of one’s specific reason, the mandate is denying people the ability to make a reasonable choice about their health and instead, delegates that power to a higher institution that claims to know what’s best for you. I do not stand for this violation committed against the student as an individual.
Whether you get the vaccine or don’t get the vaccine, we are all adults who want to be healthy, and we can make our own decisions regarding our health and wellness. We all want a return to normalcy, but normalcy in this country also requires the preservation of individual liberty.