Should the COVID-19 vaccine be required for students?

Callie Kreutter, Writer

As the world moves into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision whether the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandated throughout schools and colleges has been being questioned. The Owatonna community is more than likely not ready for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students.

Results from students being asked if they think schools/colleges should mandate the COVID vaccine like they do with others. (Callie Kreutter)

On Sept. 9, 2021, President Joe Biden ordered that large businesses with more than 100 employees require workers to get vaccinated or test weekly. In late July, Biden issued a similar order for most federal workers. Looking into the legality of vaccine mandates, Stacey Lee, a professor at John Hopkins University explains the legality of vaccine mandates and how President Biden’s mandates avoids the difficult legal situation of the Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision. Biden’s issued mandates were recently blocked by the Supreme Court. Read more on this from where they have multiple updates on this situation.

OHS Magnet sent out an anonymous survey about mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. This gave the student body an opportunity to voice their opinions. One OHS student said, “I do not believe that the vaccine has been out long enough for scientists to fully understand the potential long-term side effects. Also, since I have had COVID in the past and did not get too sick, I am not worried about personally getting extremely sick with it again.”


Results from students being asked if OHS specifically mandate the COVID- 19 vaccine. (Callie Kreutter)

Many students voiced similar concerns about the vaccine and possible side effects. John Hopkins Medicine said, “While evidence suggests there is some level of immunity for those who previously had COVID, it is not known how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again.” The vaccine can offer antibodies that protect you from getting COVID-19 again, but they do not last forever. The vaccine can also provide greater protection and helps keep the spread of the virus minimal.

Another concern is that the vaccine was rushed, therefore its effectiveness and safety is questionable. John Hopkins Medicine said, “The vaccines were created with a method that has been in development for years, so the companies could start the vaccine development process earlier.” The process of creating vaccines for a situation like COVID-19 have been discussed and developed. The History of Vaccines explains the process and length of time of creating vaccines and how everything works. Another OHS student said, “I think there is nothing to be afraid of and that everyone who can get it, should. I do not think that it was “rushed” or “understudied” because all of the greatest minds of the world came together to research it along with the surplus of funding that made it accessible so quickly.” 

An OHS student brought up a point in the survey that could change the opinions of those unwilling to get the vaccine. They said, “It’s a vaccine. It’s like any other vaccine you’ve taken in your life. Do you know what is in ibuprofen? No. So why are you upset about not knowing what’s in the vaccine? Another question I always get asked is, ‘The vaccine doesn’t even stop COVID’ ‘Yes, you are correct. It limits the ability to get it. When you take your sleeping medications do you just never wake up? When you take ibuprofen does your headache go away forever? When you take anti-depressants is your depression gone permanently? No.’ ” This student made a great point of how vaccines and medication do not completely stop something from happening but are supposed to help. Just like with the COVID-19 vaccine and how it reduces symptoms and slows down the spread. 

Results of students saying if they are vaccinated or not. (Callie Kreutter )

Recently the question of schools mandating the COVID-19 vaccine, like they do with other common vaccines, has been discussed. The University of Minnesota has mandated the vaccine and/or proof of a negative test for all indoor events, this mandate ends on Feb. 9, 2022. A majority of their student body is fully vaccinated already so they were able to return to all in person learning. The University of Minnesota is going the route of staying up to date with vaccinations to ensure the safety of their students. The OHS community may not be ready for a change as big as mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. Health officials should encourage the vaccine and make sure it is available to those who want to be vaccinated but not mandate anything yet.