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Opinion: Vaccines should be mandatory in Fall 2021

30% of students already vaccinated

It is my belief that COVID-19 vaccines should be required for students who live on campus to increase herd immunity, to protect those who cannot receive the vaccine, and to expedite a more normal, pre-COVID-19 campus life.

A growing number of schools will require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination for on-campus students this fall, including, but not limited to, Cornell, Rutgers, Brown University, and North Eastern University. Other schools are not requiring vaccines but will offer incentives such as an exemption from the campus mask mandate.

Rollins recently received 2,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine to distribute to students who live both on campus and off campus. So far, 73 students are fully vaccinated and 646 students have had their first vaccine dose. As of 2020, the undergraduate population was 2,559 students, meaning almost 30 percent of the student population has already or is on their way to being fully vaccinated. 

While this percentage is impressive, an 80-95 percent vaccination rate is required to obtain herd immunity for COVID-19. Mandating that students need to get vaccinated before returning to campus guarantees that at least 80 percent of the population will have antibodies, protecting students who are unable to receive the vaccine.

Students with medical or religious exemptions should not be required to get the vaccine. However, with certain vaccines such as the polio vaccine, people are able to be exempt from receiving it if they are worried about their reactions after speaking to their doctor. Given that other vaccines are required for students, the COVID-19 vaccine should not be an exception to this rule. 

Rollins already has a precedent of requiring immunizations. Prior to attending Rollins, students are required to provide medical documentation that they have received the Meningitis (MCV4), Hepatitis B, and MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccines. While students are allowed to read the CDC’s vaccine information statement and decline taking the Hepatitis B and meningitis vaccines, these vaccines are still listed under the category of required on the Rollins immunization form.

Mandatory vaccination will help things get back to normal sooner. As of right now, masks and social distancing will be required for Fall 2021. However, if the Rollins community reaches herd immunity, we will be able to move away from some of the more strict precautions. 

If getting two shots in the arm to reach normalcy again doesn’t seem like a fair trade, I don’t know what does.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College.

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