Baylor should require newly-approved Pfizer vaccine

By Veronica Penales | Contributor

As I sit down to write this, I find myself pondering how to begin yet another article about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, which seem nothing short of everlasting. To be frank, the continuation of this pandemic can only be attributed to the flaws of human nature. Preach one thing; practice another.

On the first day of the semester, the FDA granted approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in individuals who are 16 years of age or older. Yet, according to the Baylor COVID-19 Dashboard, only 67% of students are vaccinated.

“COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick,” the CDC said. “If you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”

All viruses evolve over time, and data continues to be gathered and analyzed on the new COVID-19 variants. This only proves how vital it is to get the vaccine now in order to reduce the likelihood of already-growing vaccine-resistant variants.

Many of us have been waiting for Baylor to take the next steps regarding the vaccine. There is no conclusion to be made other than the summation that Baylor’s protocols for the 2021-2022 academic year have fallen short. Baylor continues to prove that the smallest steps in the right direction do nothing. We cannot pick and choose where masks should be mandated. Baylor has stated its goal for continuing the semester amid this pandemic: health and safety is of the utmost importance this academic year.

There is only one way that this goal can be intentionally and successfully carried out. With the approval of the vaccine, Baylor should follow the standards established by many other top-tier universities nationwide and mandate vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff. Over 700 colleges and universities currently require either a form of the COVID-19 vaccine or a religious or medical exemption. This list includes every single Top 25 university in the nation. Even the military is now requiring vaccines given the new FDA approval. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has ordered all active duty and reserve service members to get vaccinated. In comparison, Baylor continues to fall behind.

Baylor leadership: Stop with the bare minimum. Mandate the now FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine.

Baylor students: Wearing a mask is the smart thing to do. Getting vaccinated is the best way to love your neighbor. Continue to get tested and encourage others to do the right thing. The Bible and Christianity direct us to do what is best for our neighbor over what is best for ourselves.

For those of you who are not willing to get vaccinated or even to wear a mask properly, you are not the selfless Christians you so highly hold yourselves to be.

Leviticus 13:45-46 says, “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.”

Do better, Baylor.