New vaccine requirement for next fall may cause backlash

CSUSM+students+and+employees+who+plan+to+step+on+campus+in+the+fall+must+be+vaccinated+as+per+the+new+mandate.+

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CSUSM students and employees who plan to step on campus in the fall must be vaccinated as per the new mandate.

Tania Ortiz, Opinion Editor

As vaccines are becoming more available to college-aged students, universities have carefully considered their plans for the forthcoming semester. 

The topic of requiring anyone who steps on a college campus (students, faculty and staff) to be vaccinated has been a recurring discussion. The California State University system, along with the University of California, announced on April 22 via press release that “universities intend to require faculty, staff and students who are accessing campus” to have the COVID-19 vaccine.

 This decision may not come as a surprise to many, considering other universities, such as Rutgers, have announced that students and employees must be vaccinated to be on campus. But this decision may bring backlash from students who may not be confident in the vaccine or may argue that it is not in the university’s jurisdiction to implement this type of mandate. 

One of the reasons why there is backlash and frustration from this decision is that the COVID-19 vaccines available to the public are not fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Up to this point, the FDA has only authorized emergency use for Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Currently, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is on hold due to rare cases of blood clots in women who had received the vaccine. 

The CSU will only require vaccines if they are fully FDA approved, but if the vaccine is not fully authorized by the start of the fall semester, it may delay vaccinations for many students. It may even increase the amount of uncertainty many may have towards the idea of being vaccinated.

Another problem that can stem from this new vaccine mandate is whether colleges, such as CSUSM and the rest of the CSU system are allowed to legally require students to be vaccinated.

While technically, CSUSM and schools within the CSU system already require students to get vaccinated against diseases like meningitis and measles, the situation with the COVID-19 vaccines is a little different. Decisions like these have been upheld in court based on the rationale that students on campus live in close quarters and frequently interact, which is a bit of a “breeding ground for infections to be transmitted.” 

Considering further into what type of legal jurisdiction universities have in implementing this mandate, since the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are under an Emergency Use Authorization, individuals can decide whether they want to receive the vaccine due to the little information provided to the public. In other words, this could backfire on the CSU system because of the possibility of a legal case challenging the requirement occurring.

In the press release, the CSU system added that the requirement “would allow for students or employees to seek an exemption based on medical or religious grounds,” and the details for who qualifies with the exemptions are still under development. 

It’s good that there will be a chance for students and faculty to seek an exemption to the requirement, but there’s a probability there might also be backlash once those qualifications are released.

 Having a vaccine requirement can also be beneficial in encouraging students to get vaccinated, as many are probably itching to be back on campus anyways. This also allows students to see that the university cares about the safety of its community during the pandemic.

Ultimately, this new requirement for students who will be stepping foot on campus next fall can be seen from different perspectives; everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But it also serves as a reminder that getting the vaccine isn’t just for ourselves; it’s for those around us too.

Tania Ortiz is the Opinion Editor for The Cougar Chronicle. She is a senior at CSUSM as a communication major. Tania plans to pursue a job in the media industry after graduation. In her free time, she enjoys reading, going on runs and spending time with friends.

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos