The return to in-person instruction is an exciting prospect for many, but the ever-persistent question is how Berkeley High School (BHS) plans to keep its students and faculty safe. While adhering to mask and social distancing guidelines is certainly a temporary barrier to the disease, it is not a permanent solution. The only thing that will truly help, heal, and protect the BHS community is implementing a student vaccination requirement against COVID-19 by the fall of 2021.
Vaccination requirements are nowhere near a new concept. There are already plenty in place, such as requisite vaccines that fight polio, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, and more. Numerous universities nationwide have already announced that they will require students to be vaccinated before returning to campus. While many states allow exemptions from school immunization requirements for religious or personal beliefs, California grants no such liberties. Although the COVID-19 vaccine is under scrutiny now, all of these other vaccine requirements were once protested as well and are now recognized protectors of America’s children.
The main concern voiced by parents all over the country is the nascent nature of the vaccine. Many wish to wait, perhaps to see how it affects others before “testing” it on their own children. The question is, how long are they willing to wait for their students to be able to live a normal life again?
Vaccines are well on their way to being available for children ages 12 to 15, and the effectiveness of trials should be trusted by BHS families. According to the Pfizer website,
“In participants aged 12-15 years old, BNT162b2 demonstrated 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses, exceeding those reported in trials of vaccinated 16-25 year old participants in an earlier analysis, and was well tolerated.” These results are incredibly promising, and the word of renowned scientists and medical professionals should be enough. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has proven the effectiveness of these thoroughly tested vaccinations again and again. How much more must they do to earn the trust of American families?
The United States is extremely lucky to have access to these life-saving vaccines, and the implementation of modern medicine such as this in schools is one of the best possible ways to help our youth. When requirements like these are enacted, children who may otherwise be victim to their parents’ political turmoil can benefit from the immunity afforded to others. The political alignment or views of a child’s family is what determines so much of their environment, and if we can lift the burden of being unvaccinated off of just one vulnerable kid, that would be enough.
The safety of students should be the number one priority of the school district and families alike. By educating and informing the BHS community about the vaccine and its benefits, we will be able to keep our families and friends safe from this disease that has cost so many lives. Enacting a COVID-19 immunization requirement for school children will create a healthier community and protect those who need it most.