Just a few days ago, Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) announced a mandate for all California students ages 12 and older to be vaccinated if they want to attend in-person classes. This mandate has propelled many discussions on whether or not more states will — and should — impose similar mandates. Even though the vaccine is an important factor in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19, mandating it for students is not the right way of going about this situation.
Even though it has been proven that the current vaccines work, there is still a lot of information that scientists do not know. Will the vaccine work against future variants? How long will vaccine-generated antibodies last? What dosage should be given to children? A lot of questions remain unanswered, and it totally makes sense for people to want to wait until these questions are resolved.
On top of this, the increase in breakthrough cases makes people question the vaccine’s effectiveness. As vaccinated people continue to test positive for COVID-19, many start to wonder if it’s worth getting the jab. Personally, I got vaccinated in March of 2021. When I tested positive for COVID-19 in Sept., my faith in the vaccine naturally decreased; this was the second time I had COVID-19. The government continued to tell me that if I got the vaccine, life would go back to normal. I trusted the government with my health; however, public health officials were simply wrong.
My story is one of many here in the United States, and it is clear proof that we may not know enough about this immunization. The lack of information is leading to a lack of trust in scientists, and this only makes people not want to get vaccinated. I’m not saying that the vaccine is bad by any means. However, governments shouldn’t be forcing this shot on students until we know more about its true effects on people and society as a whole.
It is clear that the pandemic is changing every day. New variants are still being detected and new studies are constantly being conducted about the nature of the virus. At first, Americans were told to get two vaccines. However, due to the mutation of the virus and the spread of the Delta variant, Americans are now being told to get a booster shot. Who knows what will happen in the next couple of months or years.
Many scientists now believe that COVID-19 is here to stay, and will end up being like the flu. Instead of pushing an agenda that focuses on eradicating COVID-19, scientists want to figure out how public health systems should deal with COVID-19 in the years to come. Perhaps this means getting yearly vaccines, similar to how Americans combat the flu. However, scientists still don’t know what the future holds. Nobody knows what the vaccine situation will look like in a year, or even five years for now. Therefore, parents should not be punished for wanting to wait until all of the questions and uncertainties are solved.
Some who oppose this view say that since schools mandate other vaccines, it’s equally fair to mandate this shot. However, those other vaccines were developed over a long period of time making people more confident in them. People deserve to have sufficient answers and assurances before being forced to vaccinate their children. At this point in time, we don’t have all of the answers, and it’s unfair to force people to get a vaccine that we haven’t truly figured out yet.
All-in-all, people deserve to have the freedom to make whatever decision they feel is best for their children. The government’s duty is to protect the people of this country, but we still need to have the freedom to take risks in life. If a person’s child is vaccinated, then they are protected against the coronavirus’ deadly and severe effects. Therefore, it shouldn’t matter what other parents do with themselves or their children; they are the ones that have an increased chance of getting severely ill. Them being unprotected is their issue, and their issue only.
Students deserve the right to regular modes of education. Just because a parent doesn’t want to give their child a vaccine that is still being looked at doesn’t mean that they should have a diminished education by being forced to take virtual classes. I truly hope that as the years go by, and COVID-19 continues to be a part of our everyday lives, people will learn to care for themselves and stop thinking that they have to control everyone else.
Ryan Levinson is a junior who studies Communications, and is minoring in Political Science.