OPINION: Mandating vaccines disrupts personal responsibility



FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 file photo, pharmacy technician Sochi Evans fills a syringe with a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Texas Southern University in Houston. Coronavirus cases are continuing to decline in the U.S. after a winter surge. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases in the country dropped below 100,000 on Friday, Feb. 12 for the first time since November 4. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)

DePaul announced Tuesday it will require students to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to attend in-person classes for the upcoming fall quarter. 

Let me start with a disclaimer: This article is not meant to dissuade people from getting the vaccine. I’ve already gotten my first dose, and I encourage everybody to get the vaccine as soon as you are able to. 

That being said, it is your own personal responsibility to protect yourself. It is not the university’s job to make choices about our personal well-being on our behalf. Their role should simply be to provide us with the resources to make an educated choice and to go get vaccinated. 

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit and non-partisan public health policy group, American vaccine supply will most likely eclipse demand sometime within the next month. This means that every American who wants the vaccine will have had the opportunity to get both doses by July. Their estimates are based on data from the CDC.

We must not postpone a return to normal until everyone is vaccinated; the cutoff must be once everybody has been offered the opportunity to be vaccinated. If a return to normal is dependent on a large portion of the population being vaccinated, those who choose to not get vaccinated promptly will hold up openings for those who took initiative to do so.

If somebody chooses not to protect themselves against the virus, that is their own personal choice. They are also not risking the well-being of those around them, as the only people at risk of contracting Covid-19 are those who have chosen to not get vaccinated themselves. 

The only people not yet eligible nationwide are children under 16, a group that has extraordinarily low risk of Covid-19, and also are extremely rarely attending a University. While some with specific chronic diseases and allergies are unable to get the vaccine for medical reasons, this population is so small that it is of little relevance to the University’s fall plans.

Students should be entrusted to make these risk assessment decisions based on their own individual circumstances and levels of risk.

Craig Klugman, head of the Covid-19 task force at DePaul, said “even with mandatory vaccines, we will be requiring masking and distancing per public health guidelines. DePaul will also continue requiring use of the Campus Clear app each day a person comes to campus.”

Klugman also said “all three approved vaccines are 100 percent effective at preventing death and hospitalization. Pfizer and Moderna are about 94 percent effective and Johnson & Johnson is 76 percent effective at preventing infection in a vaccinated person, meaning that there is still a risk of being infected.” 

The CDC is still monitoring data to determine whether or not vaccinated people can spread the virus at any meaningful rate. However, an Israeli study awaiting peer review reported by The Washington Post has indicated that vaccinated people are 90 percent less likely to transmit the virus when compared to unvaccinated people.

Infections do not matter if there is no risk of serious health issues. Let us not forget that lockdowns were not intended to stop the spread of Covid-19, but to keep our case numbers at a level our hospital system can handle.

If there is no chance of a severe case of Covid-19 among vaccinated people, what use is there in these sorts of precautions? If people are not getting seriously sick upon being vaccinated, then we should not treat this any different than any other common sickness, such as the common cold or the flu. 

Masks, distancing and Campus Clear are all fine, but for a true incentive to make responsible choices, should our university, and society as a whole, not encourage the return to normal that is perfectly safe upon doing so? 

The bottom line is that students should make decisions based on their own ability to assess personal risk. Mandating vaccines is unnecessary, as those who wish to be protected from the virus will simply go get vaccinated and those who don’t will not.

DePaul has decided that it is their job to make decisions on the behalf of students about their personal well being. While that is their right as a private university, 

By enforcing these strict measures for fall quarter, they are telling students that they know best, hindering students’ opportunity to make the mature decisions they should be accustomed to as young adults.