Art by Brian Zhou
Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation, pre-admission immunizations are a typical requirement at many colleges nationwide, Pepperdine included. With the campus having already commenced its initial reopening, Pepperdine must add the COVID-19 vaccine to its required immunization list.
Herd immunity is defined by Harvard Health Publishing as occurring after the majority of the population has slowed the spread of disease by becoming immune to it. This can only be achieved through widespread acceptance and administration of the vaccine, according to a report from the American College Health Association.
Pepperdine is located in a county that comprised a third of California’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the government tracking of COVID-19 in California. Mandatory vaccination for all students prior to returning to campus should be implemented right away.
Beginning April 15, all individuals 16 years of age or older in California will now be eligible to receive the vaccine, according to a statement from the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.
This recent development in vaccine eligibility allows for a wider range of college-age students to obtain the vaccine and inherently minimize the spread of the virus on Pepperdine’s campus as reopening plans continue to move forward. This development should be taken as the green light to require a COVID-19 vaccine for all of its students.
Vaccine information from the CDC explains that all available vaccines in the United States have high levels of effectiveness. Large-scale studies found vaccines not only prevented most recipients from contracting COVID-19 but lessened the intensity of the sickness if contracted.
Being up-to-date with immunizations for other preventable diseases like measles and tuberculosis is highly recommended on college campuses thanks to the ACHA’s 1985 suggestion per the Pre-admission Immunization Policy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By accessing the “Immunizations” window in their Student Health Center accounts, students can view an extensive list of mandatory immunizations. Currently, Pepperdine requires five different immunizations, most of which require multiple doses, in addition to a tuberculosis screening test.
This plethora of required vaccines would not be required if vaccines and immunizations weren’t proven to slow the spread of germs and preventable diseases. If Pepperdine can require students to show proof of an exhaustive number of pre-admission immunizations, then it can require all students returning to campus to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Even though the campus is only operating at 25% capacity, students and staff are still living on campus in addition to those visiting campus from off-campus housing. With Pepperdine’s implementation of the Daily Wellness Check, a required “green dot” must be obtained after filling out a questionnaire concerning a student’s exposure to COVID-19, or lack thereof, prior to gaining clearance to safely visit campus.
This wellness check operates on the honor system and trusts students are truthful in their assessment of symptoms. What’s stopping someone who went to a large, crowded party from lying on the wellness check if their desire to visit campus overcomes their consideration for the safety of others?
The circumstance of being a college student in a pandemic comes with unprecedented health concerns that warrant a school-wide vaccine mandate.
Regardless of this change in tier hierarchy, LA County has experienced over 1,220,000 positive cases of the virus with a weekly average of more than 40,000 positive cases, according to a report from the LA County of Public Health.
More than 23,000 people in LA County alone have died from COVID-19, according to the same report. The Pepperdine community has experienced 109 confirmed cases since Jan. 3 and over 200 total reported since March 16, 2020.
There has been a surge of 36 new positive cases since March 25, some of which are linked to one another. So, why would school officials not require students to get the COVID vaccine to ensure the highest level of safety and protection of their students?
Requiring students to obtain any version of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to coming to campus will not only increase herd immunity but will ensure that students are still protecting themselves and others by receiving a vaccine, even if they are dishonest in filling out the Daily Wellness Check.
All students who are able should receive the vaccine. With the entire eligible Pepperdine community vaccinated, students can feel safer returning to campus knowing the people sitting next to them in class are protected and helping stop the spread of COVID-19.
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