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Vaccines should be required for in-person classes

Vaccines should be required for in-person classes

Vaccines should be required for in-person classes
March 05
11:00 2021

As the nation surpasses 500,000 COVID-19 related deaths, we’re still fighting to stop the spread. Out of 60,197 total cases, 382 of those deaths happened in Denton County. One death is too many and we can prevent more deaths by taking advantage of our access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Students and faculty need to feel secure when they return to campus for classes, so the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory for anyone attending in-person classes. 

By requiring students and faculty to get vaccinated for in-person classes, we will decrease the likelihood of contracting the virus and spreading it. In Denton, the majority of cases are occurring in people between the ages of 20 and 29, according to data released by Denton County. This puts college students at a higher risk of contracting the virus. We often forget about the young people who’ve lost their lives to COVID-19. Even if you aren’t killed by the virus, you can still spread it to another person and possibly take their life. 

Twenty-year-old UNT student Helen Etuk lost her life to COVID-19 at the beginning of the Spring semester on Jan. 12. She contracted the virus while attending in-person classes, according to The New York Times. Perhaps if the school had taken more serious precautions, Etuk would still be pursuing her dream of becoming a pediatrician. 

Many students weren’t aware of Etuk’s contraction of the virus or her death until the Times published the story about her. The university didn’t send out a public notice telling in-person students that they were exposed to the virus last fall. 

It’s time for UNT to step up and take care of its employees and students. The biggest precaution we can take right now is requiring vaccinations for COVID-19. Immunization requirements to protect students against bacterial meningitis are already in effect. Now we must include the COVID-19 vaccine as a requirement. Anyone who isn’t comfortable with getting vaccinated or has an exemption should be limited to online classes. 

Currently, there is only a health-related exemption for the bacterial meningitis vaccine and I think the COVID-19 vaccine should work the same way. Religious exemptions shouldn’t be honored because people don’t have the right to put the health of others at risk. Health risks outweigh religious liberty because spreading a deadly virus infringes on the rights of others. For the bacterial meningitis vaccine, students who don’t intend on visiting campus must sign a petition to waive the requirement. 

The university has the resources to safely implement a vaccine requirement for the upcoming summer and fall semesters. On February 8, it was announced that UNT was approved to administer the vaccine to their community. Currently, only 500 people may register to receive their vaccine from the university due to the unknown amount of doses they will receive. 

Recently Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is leading the federal response to COVID-19, said the vaccine could be accessible to everyone by April. Based on this estimate, the university could effectively administer doses to all in-person students before they attend classes in the summer and fall. 

More information about getting vaccinated in Denton or at UNT can be found on the Denton County Public Health website. 

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

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Shelby Stevens

Shelby Stevens

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