Over the past two years, we, both as a country and as a community at BGSU, have experienced unprecedented hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For most of us, the release and then approval of the Pfizer vaccine made it seem like we could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
When President Rogers decided to implement a vaccination mandate requiring all students to complete both doses of the vaccine, some students saw this action as a step towards normalcy. This kind of thinking is hopeful, but it fails to recognize the more serious implications of a vaccination mandate. Namely, that it impinges on the ability of students to make their own choices regarding their personal health and well-being.
The intention of this article is not to pretend that the vaccine is a bad thing. In fact, the vaccine has been shown to effectively reduce the severity of the COVID-19 virus and was the main factor in the end of the pandemic.
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 among fully vaccinated adults has been low. Despite this, the vaccine does not prevent a person from being able to transmit COVID-19. People who are concerned about COVID-19 should have already received or planned to be vaccinated by this time. There are no inhibitors: the bite is free, available and effective in protecting against the virus.
Despite the safety against the coronavirus that the vaccine provides, the decision to take it is not necessarily clear cut. Students should be able to do their own health risk analyzes regarding their well-being. For example, a young adult may find that myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), who according to the CDC, may have long-term side effects, is becoming more common in young adults who have received the vaccine.
They may also notice that the effects of COVID-19 are mild in healthy people in their age group. With this information in mind, a reasonable conclusion would be to refrain from getting the vaccine in order to avoid potential long-term health problems. However, the mandate would never allow such a decision to be made.
Besides the aforementioned example, there are many reasons why a student with no previous health problems might choose to refrain from getting the vaccine: inconsistent information disseminated by health and political leaders, over-politicization of coronavirus vaccines, the result of a personal health test, etc.
Whatever the particular reason, the mandate denies people the opportunity to make a reasonable choice about their health and, instead, delegates that power to a higher institution that claims to know what is best for you. I do not support this violation committed against the student as an individual.
Whether you are vaccinated or not, we are all adults who want to be healthy and we can make our own decisions about our health and well-being. We all want a return to normalcy, but normalcy in this country also requires the preservation of individual freedom.