Alexander: Get Your Vaccine


Jack Gambassi

Students, Diana Fierro and Kinzey Brice tabling at the U of U get involved fair to distribute information about the COVID-19 Vaccine on Sept. 3, 2021 in front of the A. Ray Olpin Union building in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By CJ Alexander, Special Projects Managing Editor


In August 2021, the University of Utah announced its intention to pursue a vaccine requirement for students attending classes in person. The decision, which is allowed under current Utah law, resulted from the Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

As a student at the U, I am relieved by the U’s decision. Like other students and teachers, I worry about in-person classes as COVID-19 rages on. The question: whether in-person classes will continue throughout the whole year, or if the pandemic will shut us down again is always lingering.

That’s why the concept of ending the year before we really can begin is terrifying. I don’t want to see any of my unvaccinated classmates or teachers fighting for their lives on defibrillators because of COVID-19.

By requiring vaccines, we can ensure the safety of our campus and stay on campus. Therefore, I support the U’s decision to require COVID-19 vaccinations among students.

I’m not alone in supporting vaccine requirements among students. Over 1,000 students and staff at the U signed a petition imploring the university to mandate vaccines for students attending in-person classes on campus.

Pleading with university leadership, students and staff claimed that the U has “an ethical responsibility” to decrease the spread of the virus across campus and in the community, citing the health of students, teachers and faculty as a priority.

U student Drew McNulty, who is fully vaccinated, expressed how he feels reassured in classes when he meets fully vaccinated classmates. He said, “I will feel absolutely safer if I know that most of the people that I’m surrounded by are vaccinated.”

With 67% of students and 80% of benefitted faculty and staff vaccinated, we want those percentages to increase. Numerous universities and colleges are enacting vaccination requirements for students attending in-person classes. In the name of enabling a return to normal life and protecting students, requiring COVID-19 vaccines will increase student safety and our collective chances of school staying open.

For those uncertain of the vaccine, I urge you to re-evaluate your stance.

As a consumer of news, appealing to ignorance and misunderstandings of the vaccine is no excuse. McNulty addresses this misinformation, stating, “I think with a lot of people who aren’t vaccinated, they’ve consumed so much misinformation about the vaccine and then ended up in a bubble.”

We have the resources and ability to search for the truth about the vaccine’s safety. The American Medical Association conducted a study revealing that 96% of doctors are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, which emphasizes the medical profession’s stance on vaccine safety.

With that being said, vaccines are safe — numerous studies, researchers, scientists, doctors and organizations reinforce the logic behind its safety and efficiency in protecting people from COVID-19. We already have immunization requirements to attend campus, including vaccinations against measles and chickenpox to prevent people from getting sick, so why would the COVID-19 vaccine be any different?

If you don’t want the vaccine and want to exercise bodily autonomy: medical, religious and personal exemptions are available, as long as they aren’t rooted in misinformation or politicization. Students are welcome to either participate in the U’s mandate or not.

If your opposition stems from the back-and-forth claims from the CDC on mask-wearing, then you should trust scientists and epidemiologists to fill us in on the best way to navigate pandemics. New research presents us with new findings and new ways to fight the pandemic, hence the reversal of mask mandates. Billions of dollars, time, dedication and effort went into vaccine development to ensure its safety.

If you believe that the U is unjust in mandating the vaccine for students, let me remind you that the U is a public institution reflecting the ideals and beliefs of those attending it. The U is not a government entity, and therefore students are welcome to attend different institutions where there are no vaccine mandates.

There are no punishments for not getting the vaccine, either. Unvaccinated students will just not have the option to attend in-person classes. They can still receive an education from the U. The U is asking students to protect themselves and their community against COVID-19 and its many variants. Getting vaccinated — which is free — is the price you pay to stay. And it’s in people’s best interest to get vaccinated if they haven’t already, as other places are requiring vaccines too.

Again, I am grateful for the U in deciding to require vaccinations against COVID-19 among students. I’m paying to be here, as many other students are, and therefore I’d like to stay in person as long as possible and enjoy a semester with my classmates’ and teachers’ safety in mind.

The pandemic has divided our stances on vaccinations and mask-wearing, evident by our campus filled with so many maskless students. Requiring vaccines is a legitimate solution to keeping the U open and everyone on campus safe during this pandemic. As a student at this institution, I’m asking that everyone on campus get their vaccine if eligible. You have the right to choose whether to get the vaccine, but you should not endanger others as a result of your choices.


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