We’re nearing the end of the spring semester. Although there was a spike of COVID-19 cases in January, things have gone relatively smoothly in these past few weeks. But looking ahead, one question still remains on many of Villanova students’ minds: what will next semester look like?
One key aspect of this comes with vaccinations for both students and faculty. As the Villanova community waits for concrete information about vaccine distribution this spring, the University has encouraged students and faculty to get vaccinated as soon as they can. What I am most curious to know, however, is whether or not Villanova will require all students to be vaccinated for the fall 2021 semester.
At first, the idea of a mandated COVID-19 vaccination was a mere thought. I didn’t know how probable it was, or if people would think this was a good idea. Then, I heard the news last month that Rutgers University was requiring all students to be vaccinated for the fall 2021 semester.
Of course, the news was met with praise and controversy alike. Some say that it can be dangerous to mandate the vaccine, since some people are hesitant to receive it. Yet, it is clear that Villanova should follow in Rutgers’ footsteps and mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all students for the fall 2021 semester.
Think about how much safer campus could be in August and how much peace of mind we could have in just a few short months. If everyone on campus gets vaccinated, we would be able to walk around, interact with each other, and have fun without intense worry. Imagine being in a crowded space on campus, not thinking about whether or not being too close to someone else could expose you to the virus. Of course, the vaccines are not 100% effective, but they have been proven to work almost flawlessly in preventing infection –– and I trust the science.
As more and more states open up vaccination eligibility, there should be ample time for students to get vaccinated before we return to campus in August. By that time, not only will most (if not all) Villanova students be vaccinated, but most of the country will be as well.
Something worth considering with this proposed COVID-19 vaccine requirement is that Villanova already has a number of required immunizations for students. These immunizations include tuberculosis, tetanus, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, polio, chicken pox and two for meningitis. With so many vaccines currently required (and rightfully so), I will be left wondering why the COVID-19 vaccine was not added to the list if Villanova does not mandate it for the fall 2021 semester.
The COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe. The science backs it up. Just because there are now people who are saying that it doesn’t work and believing conspiracy theories online doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mandate the vaccine. The problem with COVID-19 is that it has become political, so something as simple as receiving a vaccine to stay healthy has now become a controversial topic.
I want to end by saying that this is not about forcing people to get vaccinated against their will. In the message from Rutgers University, they included that “Students may request an exemption from vaccination for medical or religious reasons.” This makes sense. Obviously, we don’t want to force students to do this without their consent. At the end of the day, this mandate would be about saving lives, making campus safe and creating an environment in which we are being as responsible and careful as possible.
If everyone at Villanova were vaccinated, it would make for an outstanding fall semester. We could still test students weekly like we are right now to be as safe as possible, but our case count would certainly be low. Hopefully, Villanova will set an example for other universities across the nation and mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all students.