COVID vaccine should be mandatory for fall semester

Summer Merkle | Cartoonist

The COVID-19 vaccine has given us hope as a society – quite literally as humankind – for the first time since the start of this crisis. It would be a ridiculous embarrassment to throw that away, but unfortunately, that is currently what much of the public seems content to do.

For the sake of public safety and the greater Waco community, getting vaccinated is a small favor to ask.

Baylor already announced Thursday that vaccinations would be “strongly encouraged,” but not required for the fall, but the university should go one step farther and require the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester.

The Baylor community stands in a position of privilege, viewing the world as a series of choices and options at our disposal with little difference between what the outcomes might be. Not all people, families or communities exist in that privilege, and vaccinating ourselves, in turn, protects others as well.

By limiting the spread of COVID-19 on Baylor’s campus and in the Waco community, it protects our neighbors who are most vulnerable medically and economically.

College students, in particular, live in close quarters and are prone to gather in large groups, which increases infection risk so much so that different risk management measures must be taken.

In order to stop asymptomatic transmission on and off campus, this is a necessary step that must be taken: Baylor’s campus must be vaccinated.

In all other aspects of our college experience, the school lays out what is required of us in an almost checklist-like format:

● Submit Housing Application

● Complete Financial Aid / FAFSA Forms

● Take Placement Exams

● Register for Courses

● Bacterial Meningitis Vaccination Documentation

This year, getting the COVID-19 vaccine should simply be one additional thing on the list.

As an editorial board, we understand many vaccination appointments still have waitlists and the time it takes to be fully vaccinated may contribute to logistical issues with timing before returning to campus in the fall.

We propose this alternative plan of action if a student is unable to receive the vaccine over summer break:

For a large portion of this semester, Baylor University Health Services has administered COVID-19 vaccinations on a weekly basis. We assume as vaccine availability improves, this will continue.

Before returning to campus, all students who have not been vaccinated should sign up for an appointment to get their first dose within the first few weeks of the semester through Baylor Health Services.

With studies showing the Moderna vaccine is 92% effective in preventing COVID-19 14 days after the first dose and studies on the Pfizer vaccine finding similar results, our campus would still be protected very early on in the semester.

To end the pandemic, to protect our Waco community and to do our part, this is what we must do. Baylor, we hope you will lead your community to do the right thing.