Enough Lax, Time to Vax

Widespread student vaccinations are the key to getting colleges reopened. The question becomes, why are they so important?

While vaccines may initially be a barrier to entry for some students, ultimately they will pay off by incentivizing students to be safe before going to college. | Graphic by Emma Liu ’22/Staff

With many students protesting the transition to online classes, colleges have been pushed to reopen for in-person instruction. However, colleges must balance reopening with the close-contact life of students. Cramped dorm rooms, maskless parties, and large lecture halls are all potential places for COVID-19 to spread. Luckily, increased availability of vaccines has made a normal college experience seem possible once again. With that being said, it is imperative that schools ramp up vaccination efforts. No student should have to spend lavish sums of money for an education without the college doing everything possible to safely return.

Upon releasing admission results, many schools have listed one last requirement for students: vaccinations. Schools have issued statements requiring students to get vaccinated in order to return to campus. While it may seem a bit rushed to force every student to get vaccinated—especially since some may not be able to find one—the schools would have no hope of reopening without this directive. Although it may disproportionately harm students who do not have access to vaccinations, it can at least begin the reopening process for millions of students. Hopefully, the requirements will become less of a barrier and more of an incentive as vaccines become more plentiful. 

…it is imperative that schools ramp up vaccination efforts. No student should have to spend lavish sums of money for an education without the college doing everything possible to safely return.

Some schools have gone beyond simply mandating vaccines. Some have established vaccination stations on campus, and others have made deals with local pharmacies. The University of Delaware, for example, organizes vaccinations for students with local pharmacies. States have also been allowing college students not in high risk groups to get vaccinated in order to get colleges reopened. Every school should follow this model. No student should be barred entry to an in-person education due to lack of access to vaccinations. 

Complaints have been echoed across many universities that have been online, especially those with high tuition. The University of Chicago was subjected to a boycott of tuition payments last spring. The online learning has been tough on the colleges as well, who have been struggling to recreate the atmosphere of in-person learning. From the schools’ perspectives, vaccinating students would be the best way to transition away from online learning. 

Vaccinations have worked at eliminating community spread. Communities in Israel that have high vaccine rates have effectively eliminated not just death and hospitalizations but also the spread of the virus. College students are not, as a group, high-risk individuals, but protecting the faculty and the high-risk students should be of great importance to everyone. Vaccinating students would be a highly effective way to protect those who need the protection. The results look promising; college may actually happen for this year’s seniors.