Berry should mandate

Vanessa Fowler, online editor

For the safety of the campus as well as the return to normalcy, Berry College should have a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In Mar. of 2020, the world was swept off its feet as the coronavirus rapidly spread throughout the world causing multiple countries to go into lockdowns. Due to the newness of the virus, most regions were left completely unprepared as testing hadn’t been efficient and the symptoms ranged from non-existent to severe. Because of how the world basically shut down and still has not completely returned to how things were before COVID-19 had made its debut, I think that Berry should have a mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

State laws require that, in order to be admitted into daycares and school institutions, certain vaccines must be met or else entry is withheld and Berry isn’t exempt from this. It says on Berry’s website under Health Center how they require two Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccinations, and a Tetanus within the last 10 years. If a student doesn’t have these shots, then that student isn’t permitted to register for classes following enrollment. Why shouldn’t the COVID-19 vaccine be included in this when it has taken the lives of 4.5 million people worldwide and 662 thousand people in the United States? Not to mention many people who do get COVID-19 end up being what is now known as “COVID-19 long haulers,” meaning that they continue to experience COVID- 19 symptoms including severe weakness or trouble breathing even after their infectious period. 

This virus had a wide range of severity in symptoms with some people not feeling any effects while others were put on ventilators or even lost their lives. Growing up I always heard the phrase, “it’s better to be safe than sorry,” and I believe that 100% applies to getting the vaccines. As soon as I heard that Berry was offering vaccines, I signed up immediately because it would better protect myself and others around me from getting or spreading the COVID-19 virus. Now I’m not saying that a vaccine is a cure and 100% ensures that no one gets sick. Someone can still get the flu despite having the flu vaccine. However the symptoms they have are much less severe because their body was given the chance to fight off the virus and now knows how to combat it. 

By mandating the COVID- 19 vaccine on campus, even if a member of the community were to get the virus, their symptoms have a much higher chance of being mild because their body was ready to fight it off. Not having a vaccine mandate allows for people to risk getting themselves or others severely sick when the solution to the problem is readily available for anyone to have. As of right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and multiple news sources have shown that upwards of 90% of unvaccinated people who get COVID-19 have been hospitalized as opposed to less than 5% of vaccinated people. 

In the emails from President Briggs, it shows that Floyd County is still in the “Deep Red,” translating to a high level of risk and only 36% of residents in Rome/Floyd County area are vaccinated with more than 200 positive cases leading to hospitalizations. Berry College has a high percentage of vaccination rates and we are in the Yellow area, with moderate levels of risks. The numbers here don’t lie and show that the vaccines are effective in keeping our community safe. If everyone were vaccinated, our level of risk would lessen and the odds of returning to something normal would increase. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone should get vaccinated if they can because it will better protect them and others from getting sick and having to deal with illness and all its affects. 

If Berry were to have a vaccination mandate, it would allow Berry’s campus to continue to be a safe place for everyone and allow us to make the most of our time here. I, like many others, want things to go back to the way they were before Mar. of 2020, when we didn’t have to wear masks all the time or keep our distance for fear of getting this unforeseen virus. By mandating a vaccine, we are one step closer to getting those times back. 

Berry should not mandate

Mary Harrison, reporter

In Mar. 2020, we were all shut in our homes by a strange new phenomenon: SARS-CoV-2, otherwise known as COVID-19. We were told to stay inside for two weeks (just enough time to binge watch our favorite Netflix series) to help stop the spread of this new virus. Hopefully, we could snuff it out – as Barney Fife from “The Andy Griffith Show” would say, “Nip it in the bud!” 

Unfortunately, two weeks turned into two months, and we are now halfway to two years of COVID-19 being a daily topic in the news cycle! Infections decreased this spring, but with the recent spread of the delta variant, I think it’s time for us to admit the worst: this virus isn’t going away anytime soon. 

Society is screaming that vaccine mandates are the only way back to normalcy, and Berry might be tempted to jump on this bandwagon because it is the “easy” thing to do. This is, after all, what the overarching narrative being spun by public health officials and pushed by politicians says to do. Even adults fall prey to peer pressure. 

However, according to a recent investigative piece by The British Medical Journal (BMJ), some inconvenient studies are being overlooked and the issue is being oversimplified for political purposes. 

Our college should not pursue a vaccine mandate because it is based on a misconception immunity and unnecessarily divides our campus. 

Our society has been taking the wrong approach to the conversation about ending the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The emphasis should not be on “vaccinated” vs. “unvaccinated”; it should be immune versus the non-immune. According to the CDC, active immunity results from “exposure to the disease organism, through infection with the actual disease (resulting in natural immunity), or introduction of a killed or weakened form of the disease organism through vaccination (vaccine-induced immunity).” The definition concludes that people with either of these types of immunity will produce antibodies to the virus. 

COVID-19 vaccines do not actually stop transmission of the virus, and they’re actually not designed to. The CDC website itself says, “If you are fully vaccinated and become infected with the delta variant, you can spread the virus to others.” Vaccines are designed to prevent severe illness in case of infection, for people who do not already have natural antibodies from prior infection. “Sterilizing immunity,” meaning immunity that prevents a disease from spreading, is almost non-existent for a vaccine, according to a recent science article in The Atlantic magazine. 

Observation proves this true. In Singapore, a country with the second highest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the world (81%) despite not mandating the vaccine, infections have reached a one-year peak, according to a Reuters report on Monday. At Duke University, 350-plus fully vaccinated students were recently infected with SARS-CoV-2, despite having a 98% vaccination rate among students. 

A vaccine mandate also forces students to choose one way on the risk-benefit ratio. According to The BMJ, “The CDC has acknowledged the small but serious risks of heart inflammation and blood clots after vaccination, especially in younger people.” 

On the other hand, the death and hospitalization rate among 18 to 29-year-olds is lower than every other group ages 0 to 17 years old, according to CDC data. Why should Berry require a healthy young person to risk developing myocarditis after taking the vaccine if you might just develop the sniffles, otherwise? 

Clearly, it is not only unvaccinated people who contribute to the spread of the virus. Other mitigation measures are reversible: masks can be taken off and we can go back to making social distancing optional again. But a vaccine can’t be removed from your bloodstream. 

This is a complex issue that I haven’t half-touched on, and the data is difficult to dig through because observations are ongoing. The vaccine has only been widely distributed since last Dec., after all. 

We are all living through the uncertainty that this pandemic has caused together. The college should respect the decision making of students, faculty and staff on this issue, regardless of their immunity status, rather than making the vaccine a requirement of enrollment or employment. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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