Mandate the COVID-19 vaccine

Lily Hanafin, Opinions Editor

Lyons Township needs to put a student vaccine mandate in place for the safety of students and staff. As of Aug. 23, the FDA has granted full approval to the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. This approval by the FDA only further proves what the top scientists and epidemiologists have been saying all along: vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary to end the pandemic. 

With the full FDA approval, LT should now start mandating the vaccine for students, as teachers in Illinois are already required to get the vaccine. Mandating the vaccine would create herd immunity at our school, making it safer for students, teachers, staff, and families. Many students and teachers have family members with weakened immune systems or young children who aren’t old enough to get the vaccine. Those who are at risk feel a lot of anxiety coming to school everyday, especially when they’re in situations where masks aren’t worn correctly. Herd immunity can help alleviate this anxiety because it would guarantee a low transmission rate and fewer cases. 

In this vaccine debate, some people argue that mandating vaccines is against their First Amendment Rights, even though vaccine mandates have been in effect since the 1800s. For centuries students have been required to have certain vaccines before entering school due to public health concerns. Until now, Americans have uniformly followed the guidance of public health officials and vaccinated their children against polio, measles, rubella, and many more diseases. Americans need to stop politicizing public health in order to keep our schools safe. Furthermore, a vaccine mandate at school would allow students to choose to stay home if they don’t want to get the vaccine. If anybody thinks that getting vaccinated to end a global pandemic and save lives is an infringement on their rights, they can choose not to attend LT and homeschool instead. It’s that simple.   

Many students have talked about wanting to return to normal life before the pandemic, but this wish is only possible if people get vaccinated. According to the CDC, as of Sept. 9, only 53.4% of Americans are fully vaccinated and to reach herd immunity we need around 80% of the American public vaccinated. It’s apparent that the only way that we will get the additional 27% of Americans vaccinated is if businesses and schools start mandating vaccines.

As of Sept. 12, over 660,000 Americans have died because of COVID-19 and that number is only set to increase with the highly contagious Delta Variant. When will enough be enough? How many more lives have to be cut short because people refuse to fulfil their patriotic duty to save Americans? I got the vaccine not only for myself, but for public health and the people around me that I love. I got the vaccine because I don’t want somebody I know to end up on a ventilator in the ICU struggling to breathe. If you don’t care about getting COVID-19 then don’t get the vaccine for yourself – get the vaccine for others because you care about people. Get the vaccine because it just might end up keeping your grandmother out of the hospital.