Anti-vaxxers argue that vaccine mandates defy their rights to individual liberty, and yet, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts court case of 1905, the Supreme Court determined that vaccine mandates do, in fact, fall within the state’s power to protect the public health and safety of its citizens.
Thus, earlier this month in a much-needed step toward normalcy, Gov. Gavin Newson announced that California is mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all K-12 students once the FDA approves the vaccine for their grade range, adding the COVID-19 vaccine to a list of eight other mandatory vaccines.
With this announcement, Gov. Newsom revived the age-old debate: are vaccine mandates ethical?
To put it simply, yes.
Rights do not exist in the absence of responsibility, and thus, personal decisions should not forgo the safety of others.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.”
In the age of COVID-19, this manifests itself as an individual responsibility to protect the health of those in our community via vaccination.
For months, local health officials strongly encouraged all students 12 and older to receive the vaccine, and despite this strong encouragement, many opted to ignore their civic duty.
Now, left with no other choice, Newsom and local officials must require vaccines to protect the overall wellbeing of all members of our community, including those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Throughout the pandemic, Country Day has taken a cautious approach, and still, despite the postponement of class trips and the requirement of masks at all times, COVID-19 cases infiltrated our small community.
Although the majority of students who can get vaccinated are vaccinated, vaccines can only do so much.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 vaccines function to prevent severe disease and death; however, breakthrough infections happen.
For Country Day, this means that it is not only the unvaccinated who stand a chance of contracting COVID-19 but also those who are fully vaccinated. Thus, the best method of minimizing harm is by requiring vaccination across the board, meaning the mandate could not have arrived at a better time.
At this point, if all those who intend to receive the vaccine have, then, is it right for the health of the many to rely on the decisions of the few?
It is not.
Therefore, we encourage all eligible members of the Country Day community to do their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
According to the Governor’s website, requirements go into effect at the start of the term succeeding full approval of vaccination for a given grade span (7-12 or K-6). Currently, the mandate is expected to go into effect on July 1, 2022 for students in grades 7-12. That said, local health jurisdictions and local education agencies are encouraged to implement requirements sooner.
However, there is no reason to postpone our return to normalcy any longer; the time to be vaccinated is now.